Do NOT feed the Tiger
Luang Prabang Travel Blog› entry 44 of 121 › view all entries
This was always going to be a bad day. Not only were we leaving all those happy days in Vang Vieng behind, but myself, Lori and Jay had a horrible seven hour bus journey on unforgiving roads to Luang Prabang. Najiah and Mark had already gone the day before us though, so at least we’d be meeting up with some familiar faces again.
Wisely we’d booked an air conditioned bus, which basically meant you could open the window.... In fairness, it wasn’t as hot and sweaty as I thought it would be, but SWASS was a problem none-the-less, but I sat and enjoyed Laos lush green scenery and mountainous landscapes.
The driver pips his horn at every bend in the road to inform any on-coming vehicles of our presence, though there are literally no other vehicles on the road. It’s very obvious that there is very low internal migration as no-one has cars or can afford to move around; in fact, at a glance up and down the isle, I’m pretty sure everyone was from the Western world (apart from on lady sat in front of Lori, I’ll come back to that).
You see a lot more of the real Laos as you pass through it. It’s such a beautiful country, but you see poverty everywhere. There are tiny, dotted settlements along the road from time to time. The houses are on wooden stilts and have thatched roofs. I guess this isn’t a problem in the dry season, but the monsoon season could clearly pose a problem for them.
There’s such a sparse population outside of the major cities, and given the infrastructure I’ve seen, I don’t thing this will change anytime soon. Thankfully tourism has entered Laos in a pretty big way, and so it is providing a much needed cash injection. Unfortunately, I guess the dissipation of the new found income won’t be too far from the cities and those with a better quality of life already. I did try and buy a few bits and bobs from the stalls along the way, but it does get frustrating having to haggle a fair price all the time.
With the windows wide open providing a
refreshing breeze, we coasted on.
Since I had a bit of time to reflect, I wrote a few observations down. Laos people always seem to be smiling and having fun. As they don’t have material possessions such as TV’s and radio, they play team sports and co-operate brilliantly well. I’ve seen kids everywhere playing merrily together in the water, on football pitches, volleyball pitches, wherever. They just seem to enjoy life and you don’t see any complaints, jealousy or animosity for what they haven’t got; on the contrary, they seem to be very grateful for what they have. Does seem to be lovely attitude to have in life. I’m quite a positive person, but these guys wrote the book! Maybe it’s time to chuck out the X-box and clean my football boots up eh?
We got off the bus and the three of us were joined by an American/Israeli girl who was up for sharing a tuk tuk and hanging out. I introduced myself, only to be told ‘I know who you are. I met you the other day in Vang Vieng’. Erm, ok. Clearly I was wasted whilst tubing, but she’s obviously recognised us all and was happy to join us. I wasn’t embarrassed *blush blush*
Arriving in Luang Prabang, I spotted a sign which read ‘Do not feed the tiger’ outside of a restaurant. This got me a little excited, so after we met back up with Mark and Naj (we all booked into the same hotel), we went to that restaurant. I couldn’t help it and grabbed Naj saying: ‘I know it says don’t, but....’ Unfortunately it turned out that the sign was a joke about Tiger Beer, so Naj lives another day... for now.
After some more Laap, we went for a walk
around the Phusi night market, but Lori was a bit ill and so went back. It is a World Heritage City and is pretty,
but there is a 10pm curfew on the streets and a strict last orders at
11pm. This is so the monks can get up at
first light for there prays and the morning ritual of receiving food off the people. Everything comes to an absolute stand still
at 12pm, but there is a bowling alley close by which stays open until 1am I
think. It was late enough for us and
we’d done our fair share, in fact a lot of people’s fair share, of drinking for
the time being.