We’ve been in Laos for just over a week and are beginning to get a tiny sense of it; feeling a tad comfortable and bolder. Yes, we could head out to more remote locations, discovering as we go as opposed to taking our “Sylvia Organized” itinerary. But alas, we are headed to Cambodia and need to learn new words for yes, no, hello, good bye, thank you and please, plus all those nuances of a culture. This morning I just wanted to hid under the bed covers and stay.
But, off we go to Cambodia and I’m sure we will enjoy it.
Laos was different than I’d expected. Much more cosmopolitan, at least in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, and so much like Mexico in the smaller towns and villages. Were it not for the architecture and language, we could have been in Mexico. It did provide a sense of comfort.
Laos also reminds me a lot of New Mexico. How? New Mexico is the state that tries to catch up and keep up with the surrounding states and Laos feels much that way to me, trying to keep up with the surrounding countries. Everyone goes to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, but Laos? Everyone bypasses it except for a quick fly-through of Luang Prabang (evidently one of the top travel destinations in the world!) I also have the sense that the economies of these other countries are a bit more advanced. But Laos is a country that is trying hard and has some good plans in place to move forward. I just hope they do not become “overrun” by their bigger neighbors.
A few updates:
In an earlier post I included a picture of a guy in a rented Kayak doing a 7-day journey from Housy Xai to Luang Prabang; the same route we did in two days on our slow boat. Yesterday after exploring one of the bamboo bridges we happened upon him on the beach at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Kham (the two rivers that define the traditional downtown of Luang Prabang). Tuns out he had only arrived about 20 minutes earlier. He is from Seattle doing this trip blowup Kayak that is about the size of a small tent when deflated. We camped out 3 nights and stayed in some villages and guest houses along the way. He is on a many month walk (paddle) about. He will be in Laos for a bit and then has a different boat being sent in to do some “real” white water, class 4 and 5, in Nepal. A real adventurer in my book!
A clarification on the ballet. I called the female lead a Princess. See was not. She was Sida, a beautiful girl, but not a Princess. Too bad we will never know if she is saved from the evil guy who kidnapped her, but I suspect so, as these stories always seem to come around.
The female so often seen in Buddhist depictions…. I still don’t know her story, but she is not cutting her hair as I had stated. He has very long black hair that is always in her hand and held high and draping down. In many cases it seems water is coming out of her hair in a fountain. I promise I will look her up as I believe I have read about her in the past. Or, someone can update me on her story.
I’m sure I have many more misrepresentations of Laos in my posts, but it was my best understanding at the moment.
BTW, on the way to the airport this morning, we say a small Alms-blessing with perhaps 15 monks and only a few lay Buddhists. No tourists, no cameras, no people selling stools for the lay people, not tables selling “snacks” for the monks. It appeared so much more as one would want and expect to see this Buddhist ritual.
Adios y hasta luego Laos y vamos a Cambodia.