Life in Laos


The people of Laos are statistically the poorest population in southeast Asia. But this is something that would hardly cross a visitor’s mind, even with the hill tribes that live for under a dollar a day.

In our trip to Laos, we visited villages where our guide asked us to give our empty water bottles to the small children, as they don’t have anything to carry water to school, besides bamboo cups. Plastic water bottles are too expensive and a luxury item for the family to invest in, at a quarter each . However, these and many people at different socioeconomic levels in the country were probably the happiest, proudest, and most grounded people we’ve met during our trip.

in the bus from the border Vietnam/ Laos to Savanakeht, I travel sitting in the stealed stall of the co-driver

in the bus from the border Vietnam/ Laos to Savanakeht, I travel sitting in the stealed stall of the co-driver

The journey in the country started with the worst transportation ride in our trip thus far. Once crossing the border, we boarded the only available bus to took six hours to the next town. What our travel agent neglected to tell us (and what was the only option) was a bus that looked as though it should’ve been retired in the 1970’s, riding with about 20 passengers over its capacity. I spent about three hours of the ride sitting on the steps of the bus at the entrance, and the other three hours sharing those steps with two other passengers in a standing position.

But we got where we needed to go. And no matter where we were, we found the people to be mellow, polite, a bit shy, (which is a bit of fresh air after the aggressive, in your face attitudes in Vietnam) and overly friendly.
In fact, Laos seemed to offer everything we sought in Vietnam, but in better forms. From the wonderful bakeries and French foods, to the easy and welcoming conversations with locals and expats, to breathtaking scenery and action activity.

one of the stops in the tubing in Vang Vieng

one of the stops in the tubing in Vang Vieng

We even took the time to participate in the debaucherous right of passage which is Tubing in Vang Vieng. A days pursuit which involved floating down a beautiful river in a giant tractor tube, while stopping every 20 feet to drink buckets of mixed drinks, dance to strange German techno, and slide and swing in giant unsafe swings into the water.

After a few days, it was necessary to cleanse our soul, which it is why we trekked through and stayed with the hill tribes of northern Laos. It was a wonderful experience that opened our eyes up to how little happiness & wealth have to do with each other.

Communist images exists everywhere, but to the people, especially those too young to remember the parties original ideologies, communism is nothing more than a political party which does not allow them freedom of choice in government.

It was unfortunate to see the Mekong and record lows. Since China has increased damns on the Mekong, the river has come down so much that Ferry travel (our original plan to get back to Thailand) was deemed unsafe and halted by the government.

We had to leave Laos too soon, as I had some professional dedications in Chiang Mai, but it was a country we entered with little expectations, and left overwhelmed by the natural and human beauty to be found everywhere.

chilling out in Vientiane

chilling out in Vientiane

7 comments to Life in Laos

  • Nat

    Hola Marian que buena onda..decile a maziar que los buses esos seguro eran como aca..q no pasa nada jajja che si vas para tailandia alla esta vicky con el chalo..unas playas geniales!! la verdad q entre vos y vicky estoy viendo unos paisajes hermosos..igual..creoq yo no me la bancaria..jeje besooooooooo

  • Nancy (from T&C wedding)

    Wow, it seems like a fascinating and eye-opening trip you two are experiencing! I didn’t realize the difference bet. Laotians and Vietnamese–quiet vs. “in your face”….

    Anyway, it is quite coincidental that you mentioned the luxury of empty plastic water bottles, because I was just this week mentioning the same thing about my trip to Haiti–the girls there were (playfully) fighting over our empty water bottles, and little girls were holding onto big yellow bottles with black tops that looked like Pennzoil antifreeze/oil bottles–I doubted my initial reaction/suspicion, but someone verified that the girls were using those bottles as water bottles. Boy, one man’s trash is another’s treasure…Take it easy you two! When are you back in CA?

  • Sofia

    Hola!!! los lugares son increibles!!! Me encanta el viaje que están haciendo!! despues de Laos para donde van?? hay algun mapa de los proximos destinos? Cuando vienen para acá? Los esperamos!!Hay alguna posible fecha? al menos aproximada?besos Sofia

  • Ale

    Coincido con Nat en lo del bondi. Eso o un sarmiento en hora pico!!! 😛
    No se que pasa que no puedo ver las fotos!!!! Voy a tratar a la tarde en mi casa.
    Que lindo todo!!!!
    Sigan disfrutando a full!!!
    besote enorme para los dos

  • Ale

    Agrego un comentario “re femenino”, jajaja.
    Mariam!!! cómo haces??? te veo en todas las fotos con ropa distinta!!!! Todo eso te entró en la mochila? una grande!!!!
    besos mil

  • Miki

    Hi! Miss you guys and think of you often!

  • gracias a todos por los comentarios!!, thank you all for the comments!! A coincidence and a reality in the third world countries, Nancy, we just saw same yellow bottles in the North of India.We still have a few months more on the road.
    Respecto al bondi, recientemente tuvimos una experiencia peor viajando de India a Nepal, el Sarmiento se queda corto!
    Sofi, te escribo pronto.
    Un abrazo!

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