Random Update: Vang Vieng, Laos 2016_05_11
I’m camped out in the restaurant of the (Agoda Ad) Pan’s Place guesthouse in Vang Vieng, Laos. I plan to be here for a while so I thought to write some notes of whats gone on lately. There may be photos, or videos added but I just don’t know yet.
Thailand is such an easy place to live. Internet is everywhere and it’s fast. The street food is delicious and cheap, and many restaurants are open after midnight. They have western malls and 7 eleven’s are everywhere. The traffic, while slightly chaotic, is respectful. Chiang Mai was so easy to live in that after a while I felt I was not really traveling.
I started saying that when I left Thailand I wanted to experience something a little more tough and raw. Laos seemed to be the perfect place for this kind of hands-on travel. They do not have the long history of tourism that Thailand does and much of the country is remote.
So far I have not been disappointed. Which is to say that I have been disappointed. The roads here are rough, the bus drivers crazy, and the internet is slow.
In Luang Prabang the shops and restaurants seem to be more willing to try and take advantage of tourists. The food is less spectacular than Thailand and both food and beer are more expensive here. I have had all my shoes stolen, and the staff at the guest house in Luang Prabang spoke such little english that they could not tell me where to find a place to get new shoes. The tuktuk drivers all overcharge and I have had one who outright lied; leaving me a good half hour walk from where I was supposed to go.
In Vientiane I stayed at a hostel that had great AC, but the staff was uninterested in doing any work and the place had no soul. That made it very difficult to meet people to hang out with. The city itself didn’t have much to offer either. I did find a nice coffee shop however.
My current guesthouse in Vang Vieng has no AC and only small fans. This morning I woke up with my clothes soaked with the same sweat I went to bed in last night.
Not all things have been bad in Laos. I have met some great people in the various hostels I stayed. Just today I met a Mexican/Turkish guy who lives in Germany named Roberto. Later today i plan to sit down with him and do an interview. The other night he was “arrested” by what he thinks is the Laos mafia. He was smoking weed in the open so he has no one to blame but himself. I plan to get the story directly from him though.
I have also met a couple from Ireland/Scotland who are traveling with a German girl. I ran into them in both Luang Prabang, and in Vang Vieng. Now I’m planning on meeting up with them again further in the south. They are so much fun to hang out with, and it’s not often I make such a good connection to other travelers. I’m really happy about this.
So, I’m getting exactly what I wanted. A rougher travel experience. I am slowly starting to get used to it and even enjoy it a bit. I am most definitely not as comfortable as I was in Chiang Mai and I do miss that level of comfort. But I’m also looking for even more uncomfortable adventures. My next plan is to find a slow boat that I can take further south.
The slow boat’s have no internet or any other modern convenience. They stop at small towns along the river and I will have to find my accommodations for the night every time I stop, no prebooking on Hostels.com or Agoda. What the slowboat will offer is a time to relax and unplug. It will give me time to take some photos of the river and surrounding areas, meet new people, both travelers and locals. I will get to see a side of travel that I have never had before.
Its taken me 9 days of being in Laos, and a lot of discomfort before I started to appreciate what Laos really has to offer. If you are a traveler looking for a nice “vacation” then this is likely not the place you want to visit. However if you are up for more of an adventure I recommend including Laos in your plans.
Have you ever had a problem relaxing into the location you were traveling through?