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LAOS P.D.R. – Please Don’t Rush

LAOS | Wednesday, 27 October 2010 | Views [357]

From Kunming, we went to the southern town of Mengla (nearly missing the bus due to timing and traffic..stresssss), where we jumped onto another bus to Luang Nam Tha in northern LAOS. The weather was grey and wet as we left China. In Mengla we shared our bus with a few locals and another old Kiwi fellow. What a character; Jimmy, living abroad for the last 5 years instead of retirement, now a traveler, who plenty entertained us with his dry sense of humor, and stories of places visited.


As we crossed the border, getting USD ready, running back to the bus for passport photos and waiting in lines constantly pushed backwards by impatient rude Chinese tour groups with wads of passports, Jimmy looks at the arrival card in my hand and points to the top. “LAOS P.D.R” ‘Do you know what that stands for?’ he asks me. ‘Peoples something something…’ I answered. ‘No no no, it stands for: please – don’t – rush.’ This is a well keyed term known by all returned travelers who fall for the lure and relaxed ways of life here in Laos. We came to see this immediately as the customs just after the border had us waiting three hours.


We ate some ethnic food at a quiet restaurant set off the main road, after finding and settling in our guesthouse, watching the rain come down but enjoying the balmy temperature, we turned in and had a well deserved early night. The rain woke me up super early and I set my heart on getting out of this small Lao town. I figured it was probably ideal for treks and village tours, but with the weather as it was, we agreed to move on.

Out of LuangNamTha, and headed to Houay Xay for the night, the bus ride bumpy and uncomfortable, but with views of huts and villages along the route, on and off rain and sunshine long the lush green and beautiful countryside was an easy distraction. I find some of my favorite memories of Argentina are from long bus journeys, the incredible insight you can view in such a flash. Into doorways of huts where an old woman is toking a fat smoke, the small children playing with the piglets, the cattle under the stilted huts enjoying the shade.


The first view of the Mekong is from the small town of Houay Xay. One main road borders the brown river, the Mekong. It flows silently, while horns of vans and trucks, cars and bikes that speed along the cramped main street, the guesthouses offering menus and views of the sunset. We stood on the fourth floor rooftop watching the chaotic but slow pace of another Lao town. Ate an awesome curried sticky rolled sauced meal washed down with dark beer Lao.



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