Laos - Overview
Trip Start Jan 16, 2008
117Trip End Jul 28, 2008
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a) Twats - like the German girl who said, "I don't regard myself as German; I regard myself as international" or the American who insisted loudly (as one would expect) that he wasn't "travelling", but "living life on the road"
b) Ironically telling the truth
If a country could literally sleep, then Laos would be the first to snore. Welcome to the most laid-back land in the world.
Laos is very much the vogue destination in South-East Asia at present, particularly on the backpacker trail. People seem to rave about the hassle-free opportunity to do nothing! Perhaps it was the fact that we were there in the heart of the dry season when the spectacular natural scenery was rather arid and uninspiring, but Laos failed to captivate us. Don't get me wrong, the people are warm and friendly, Beer Lao is an enjoyably cheap tipple and the baguettes from the charming street vendors are spectacularly good, as is the potent coffee (although the addition of condensed milk rather destroys the more delicate blends), but other than that don't get too excited.
It is deeply depressing that Laos is essentially a broad-brush cultural experience, then you reach Vang Vieng and witness a total destruction of Laos itself for the sake of an alcohol-fuelled backpacker colony which could be almost anywhere in the world. I think so often when you hear people having kittens over Laos, it is only over this bizarre world they submerge themselves in in Vang Vieng that they refer, as well as the charm of Luang Prabang, although this town is certainly worthy of its UNESCO world heritage status.
We leave Laos with interesting reflections, but the feeling that we have seen what the country has to offer and with it there is not burning desire to return anytime soon.