Tag Archives: Backpacking

4 days in Vientiane

I began my travels through Laos in the capital Vientiane. I stayed with a cousin who had been living there for about almost 3 years years. She confirmed that life here is pretty relaxed. People beat the heat by staying indoors during the peak of the day, and because it gets so hot, most chores, errends, outdoor tasks are done early in the morning or evening. I found it too hot to sleep past 6 during my stay here, so I was up early as well listening to the sounds of pots and pans clanking away for breakfast.

After morning chores were done, I spent the afternoon living the capital city life. This meant running errends and touring the sights. My cousin took me by motorbike to the morning market, thalat sao. Here you can find fresh meats, veggies, candies, packaged toys, shoes, get your hair done, nails did, all that and beyond. Most of the locals shopping is done with vendors who set up shop. Its a wild experience. If you can, try and get here by motorbike, its crazy, there are virtually no road rules, but an experience nonetheless.

image

When not running errends, we ate. We ate and we drank. Beer of choice all over Laos of course is Beer Lao. Something about the heat and atmosphere just make this beer so much more delicious. A Beer Lao in the US is just not the same as a Beer Lao in Laos.

image

Vientiane was a great place to start and an easy way to make my transition into Laos. While there is still much development to be made, if you hang by the Mekong River front, you’ll see shops, guest houses, and stores that cater more to the foreigner/backpacker crowd. Its interesting to see the transition. A cup of coffee from the coffee chain Joma (which caters more to foreigners and ex-pats) is more than what a local could make in a day. Still, an interesting sight to see.

Ah, onw nore thing, the bugs. My first couple of days here meant I was fresh meat for mosquito’s and fire ants. I made the mistake of forgetting to buy heavy duty bug spray and was immediately bitten all over my face and back 😦 lesson for all you traveling out there, don’t forget to put bug spray on your face before bed.

image

Advertisements

“Be Careful”

One thing I’d like to make clear about Laos before I begin; Laos is not as poor, under-developed, or crime-ridden as we imagine. When I announced that I would be taking this trip, the first thing out of peoples mouths were “be careful”. I don’t have people telling me to be careful when I travel for work or leave the house, but I can understand why they’d say this. The unknown can be scary. Fear of the unknown is the oldest form of fear, but as history has shown us, exploration of the unknown leads to amazing discoveries.

That being said, the way of life here is different. There is still much development that needs to be done to the land, but it’s the people who really make this land gold. You’re welcome everywhere you go with a smile. During the new year, people pull you into their parties with a glass of Beer Lao. People were happy that I was a visitor, and were even more than happy to help me understand the language and culture. Family and happiness first, that’s the way of life. Doesn’t sound too scary to me.