February 24th, 2010

wayfaring wordhack

Slow boat to Luang Prabang

Which is in Laos, not anywhere in China.

On the morning of the 17th, we crossed from Thailand in Laos. It was chaos at the border as everyone jostled to get their visas or recover their passports, but everyone was goodnatured about it; we were all in the same mess, and most of us were leaving on the same boat.

After the immigration formalities, we were herded like little children--or cattle, take your pick--into a cramped minivan where music was blaring because the driver was on the other side of the street, chatting, and apparently didn't want to miss a beat. We waited for almost ten minutes, and no one else came to get in the bus, so the driver finally deigned to take us to the slow boat dock.

He pulled up to a rickety, rundown restaurant overlooking the Mekong, where a Laotian in a white suit proceeded to tell us a truckload of lies. The list goes a little something like this:

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* What a crock! Don't tell me that in a town that sees 100+ tourists debarking everyday doesn't have adequate accommodation options, not when everyone with a lick of business sense has converted every spare room and chicken coop to that effect in hopes of getting their share of the tourist dollar/baht/kip...Oh, speaking of currencies, yet another lie Mr Smarmy told: Change your money here because no one will accept baht or dollars on the river.  Yeah. Right.

** Some souls did trust and had their bags rifled before they arrived. The one we talked to, thankfully, didn't have anything stolen, but someone did have their backpack go missing while they slept on the beach.
wayfaring wordhack

Color Me Jaded

I’m just not that impressed with Laos. Seeing as how everyone else raves about the country, especially how friendly the people are, we can probably just chalk this up to me being jaded.

Temples? Saw plenty in Thailand, and in better shape.

Huts on piles, woven of palm fronds and bamboo? All over Madagascar.

Landscape? Dry, brown and dusty, with huge swathes of felled trees, awaiting burning, so the land can be cultivated.

The people? Nice enough. maybe I’ll think more highly of them after being in Vietnam a few days. The Vietnamese have a reputation for being rude and pushy and downright aggressive, especially where money is concerned.

Anyhow, I’m not saying don’t go to Laos, but I don’t know that I’ll ever return.