I had the taste of resentment in my mouth. My love affair with the North of Laos was almost over. Vientiane would be the most South I’d been in Laos, and that is in the North West. I wanted to do it all. I wanted to buy a motorbike and do the whole bloody country, top to bottom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to Malaysia to meet a bunch of crazy backpacker pals and see the Prodigy live, followed up by the Malaysia Formula 1, so I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’m excited but sad to leave. I’ve got to come back and experience Laos in all its glory. Later this year, I promise, I’ll be back.
Anyway, after a relatively short and uneventful journey, I arrived from fresh from Vang Vieng, I and a handful of tourists, boarded a massive golf buggy style bus thing that drove surprisingly fast for its clumsy looks and took us away from the bus station into the capital of Laos. Dropped off in central Vientiene, I knew I had one short night here before I was to fly to Kuala Lumpur, lovingly known by everyone in Kuala Lumpur as KL. Before I knew it I was sharing a room with yet another stranger, Ivet from Spain. We went to the night market and ate some very decent Indian food. I noticed that Vientiene, the capital of this extremely relaxed country was the largest place I’d been to and the busiest. Traffic existed, people were on the streets and life carried on past 8pm. Don’t get me wrong, this city was still quiet and had a slow pace to it, but in comparison to the rest of Laos, it had a little more energy. I liked it, a little bit and I was glad I’d opted to make this trip to Vientiane a short one.
The most fascinating part of my trip to Vientiene was the airport bit. Firstly, it was shut when I got there. It was clean but not particularly impressive. A little like Laos itself. Nice but not elaborate. I had to wait for the front doors to be opened. Then another brief wait for the doors to open to the check in counters. Only one plane was flying out at this time in the morning so there was no rush. Workers sat outside the few restaurants that existed and waited for their bosses to show up to let them in. Everyone seemed not bothered. I checked in and went upstairs to passport control. I had to wait for these fellas to get going too. There was 30 minutes before departure time and passport control hadn’t even opened its doors yet. I love Laos.
Unprofessional. But I’d come to expect it. As usual in airports, the food was at astronomical prices. I paid huge dollars for a cold hot chocolate and a pot noodle type thing. The food on offer was poor, really poor. Starbucks hasn’t managed to grace its corporate presence in Laos yet. Its poor imitation was seriously lacking.
I boarded my flight. Alone, I reflected on my time in Laos. What a great adventure. Sleeping in random ethnic villages where nobody spoke English, being cooked meals by old ladies, dead rats, Akha ladies with their tits out, trekking through the jungle, leeches, hunting birds, caves, loads of caves, more caves, cockroaches, mountain bikes, the Secret War, standing in massive bomb craters, that field with a lot of Jars in it, tubing, trekking, loads of trekking, more trekking, karsts, boats, rivers, winding roads, crazy drivers, big mountains, eating insects, no electricity, drunk Laos men, LaoLao, remote village expeditions and letting my future Laos wives get away. God damn I love this place. It’s fair to say I had a rocky start but as soon as I got away from them pesky tourists I found a lot of happy places.
Laos, I salute. Your people and your land are full of beauty.
Next destination: Malaysia. This is where things get messy, really messy.