Saturday, December 17, 2011

Laos, 25-11-2011 - 04-12-2011

Sleepy land of a million elephants
After crossing a river-border we arrived at slow and sleepy Laos, also called a land of a million elephants.
Very little cars, only few main roads (the map of Laos looked suspicious already in Lithuania) which drown into the darkness right after the sunset, a few traffic lights in all the country (the only ones we saw were in Vientiane), slow monks hanging around with umbrellas protecting them from the sun, lazy dogs lying on the side of the streets, dusty villages and no feeling of any rush. It let us feel the time slowing down.
Even Lao people were slow. Beside this, these mostly one meter and a half tall locals don't show much emotions and expressions, don't smile much to each other and to tourists.
Only the children were real sweeties standing with amazed faces and often naked bottoms next to the road and waving at us or playing with their amazingly primitive toys.
Even we became lazy in Laos!
But this sleepy country didn't disappoint us even though we had enough of its boring cuisine and the locals were not so warm towards us. The perfect match of Johan's open mind and Milda's curiosity let us take as much as possible from it. Already the first night in the village where we stayed over we heard the music sounds and went to have a look. We discovered a family celebration in a big tent. We were right away invited to join them and from then our glasses were always refilled with Lao beer (pronounced as "lauw bier") or local home made vodka.
We could witness how slowly the locals sing and move on the dance floor. It was very nice and funny because people around us were pretty drunk and we became quite tipsy as well.
Another time we celebrated the Independence day of Laos in another small town, this time with less beer, but we could show our dancing skills in Lao way - slowly move from one side to another and do very slow movements with both hands.
We were not only partying in Laos. We also enjoyed nice, just very dusty and sometimes tough gravel rides through the villages hidden under a layer of road dust.
We discovered very relaxed and cozy capital Vientiane which has the size and atmosphere of a small town and reminded us Vilnius. We took a boat through the most spooky cave we ever saw. We even crossed Lathoya and Roy who did the same route as we, just started from Cambodia.
And, surprise surprise, we had the fastest border crossing during our trip!

Paid homestay
In Laos we did our best to sleep at locals' place -  asked for it in many villages by showing the international sign of sleeping, several times requested for a couch on Couch surfing. But nobody invited us to stay over and local Couch surfers didn't event reply to our requests!
The locals were not "impressively friendly" and it was hard to get a chance to experience "the most authentic way" of locals life by staying in their place as it is described in our travel guide which, apparently, is not up-to-date anymore.
Once the search of homestay ended up at... a prostitute house. Just before the sunset we stopped in at the first glance empty and quiet resort. During dinner Milda payed Johan's attention to the beautiful local girls which were hanging around, waiting for something and smiling. There was even one shemale among them! It was already quite suspicious, and when we found a used bag of condom in our room it became clear that we will have our rest not in a resort but in a brothel. Later on a few men appeared, the music became louder and real life began. Fortunately we had our earplugs and didn't hear when the working day of the girls ended. Anyway we couldn't complain as we were not the main clients...
When finally we had the opportunity to see from closer how locals are living we needed to pay for it! A symbolic price, but still the homestay was not for free. Already after the sunset, when the hope to find a place to sleep was almost lost, we were invited by a family in a small village. Their straw hut consisted from a shop in the front of the house, a bed just behind the goods, a small kitchen and a dirty toilet. We slept on a mattress next to the family and their teenage son shared bed with his parents.
Just behind the straw wall there was a shelter with a pig and piggies. We went to sleep at eight o'clock and woke up just before the sunrise because of the noise of crowing cocks and squealing pigs.
Finally we got to taste the life of local villagers and it was quite tasty, with some spicy Lao flavour!


Some numbers:
KMs driven: 20 800
KMs driven during this period: 2350
Money spent during this period: 578,5 euros

3 comments:

  1. guys, would you recommend to go to combodia for few days, or stay those 2 days out of 8 still in thailand

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  2. Milda kaip milzine atrodo salia vietiniu! :)

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  3. Dag Johan en Milda,

    Wat lijkt ons dat fantastisch om zoveel mee te maken en wij hebben bewondering voor jullie, zoals jullie deze reis/klus met zijn twee├źn klaren. Maar...voor de thuis blijvers (familie) is het best spannend, zo'n lange motorreis en zolang van huis. Geniet nog even van de laatste weken, fijne feestdagen en................. een behouden thuiskomst.

    Piet en Hermien van der Wielen

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