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The original world nomad "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." - Confucius.

Comatose Capitalism

LAOS | Sunday, 22 January 2006 | Views [1251] | Comments [1]

In Vietnam you only have to go near a market to have someone try to sell something. Anything. "You buy", "for the baby", "for your boy" and "same same" are aimed in your direction on even the most general of strolls. Capitalism was always alive and well in Vietnam, even when were here 15 years ago. The sheer ingenuity and commercial passion both day and night highlights the Chinese origins of the Vietnamese people.

After Hanoi, we decided that we'd prefer not to attempt Saigon with children, and leave the pungent memories of our previous visit intact an unspoilt. (Note to Lonely Planet: in your section on Hanoi you say it is an excellent city for children. Have any of your authors actually been there with young children? We think not. Perhaps people who haven't actually got children imaigine the old quarter must be a fun place with a family ...)

So instead, after a brief visit to see Hue once more, we came here  to Luang Prabang in Laos.

How any country just 150km from Hanoi can be so different is bizarre. Perhaps as Chang Mai was maybe 30 years ago, the culture is certainly far closer to Thailand than it is to Vietnam, regardless of geography. The city here is so quiet,literally. And regardless of olitical system, the people here just don't seem to have the capitalist drive to sell stuff: ask for a hotel room and they seem almost reluctant to even show you let alone actually try to drag you into their establishment as you find everywhere else in Asia, or siddle up to one of the vendors in the evening night market selling some of their beautifully woven fabrics and they just look at you with a "que?" sort of look, long before you actually get down to bargaining.

In all the years we have been travelling, we have never really encountered anything like it.

Tags: capitalism, culture, luang prabang, market

Comments

1

The only place you'll find some half-hearted attempts at selling you something in Lao are at the Morning Market (Talat Sao) in Vientiane.

  Jon Mar 13, 2007 12:56 PM

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