Riding Through Laos

I know I haven’t talked very much about my time in Laos. I was without convenient computer access at the time so I was unable to write the sort of lengthy articles that my activities normally deserve, although I still took lots of photos and video that I have not previously posted. As I was going through my media that I hadn’t looked at since dumping it off my various cameras I found the video of myself and the two Canadian guys I met in Vientiene that I travelled up to Vung Vien with. It’s a pretty long video so I’ve sped it up a little bit just to make it fit with a particular Thai song that I really love. Sorry, I couldn’t manage to buy any Laos music in Laos. I could only find Korean and Thai music ! Hahaha !

Also included is a large collection of photos from both my times in Vientiene and my time in Vung Vien and also some photos just along the way of the road and the sort of people I saw and the villages I stopped at along the way. I don’t have any specific stories about the two Canadians, since I lost track of them before I even reached Vung Vien due to getting a flat tyre, and I don’t even recall their names other than that we had a good time together and there was a very memorable moment when we were sitting on the balcony of the hotel we stopped at after I had my accident at about 2am, heavily enlightened on some tasty sugar and Thai specialities, when we all just sort of looked at each other and went “Wow. This is pretty amazing isn’t it ? Here on some weird hotel balcony at 2am. From opposite sides of the world, on a mad rushed motorcycle journey through the Laos countryside”. It just felt very intense at that moment.

The last few photos in this set do have a small story behind them. I was in Vientiene for the second time, after coming back from a week in Vung Vien, and I had been out to a bar drinking half price cocktails by myself and browsing the web on my tablet, when, on my way through the back streets of Vientiene, a large group of Laos people were having a party after a wedding. The guy with the microphone was doing karaoke and he yelled out to me in pretty good English and insisted that I come in and join them all. I was reluctant. This was someone’s wedding, and I was drunk and tired. But the guy was very insistent and everyone turned and waved to me and called out, inviting me to join them.

What could I do ? It would have been sorta rude to turn them down when I had no urgent need to be anywhere, so hesitantly, I approached their house and took the seat offered. Only a couple of them spoke to me directly in English, but mostly they all just talked and celebrated together and offered me lots of beer and food, always insisting I eat some of every dish they had. In some countries it’s considered an honour to have a foreigner at your wedding party and I guess for some reason on that night, I happened to be there at the right moment and they just dragged me into their happy little Laos world of celebration and joy for a few hours before I finally managed to excuse myself and disappear home, even more drunk, but at least well fed and very amused at having been dragged into such an unusual situation.

So now, I’ve witnessed both a Laos wedding photo, and also enjoyed a Laos wedding reception party. Quite the cultural experience and many many thanks to the happy couple and their friends for letting me share their special night with them all. It’s an experience I feel privileged to have been involved in.

Oh, one last story. The people who appear in the first few photos in this album are the ones who I travelled to Laos with on the tiny cramped bus. The Korean girl is one that I chatted to at the midnight border crossing where we were all roused from our sleep and taken into a small cafe where we filled out our Thai exit forms and Laos entry forms which we would present to customs later that morning at the border itself. She was with a group of other Koreans at the cafe, and of course I walked up and said hello and introduced myself before, predictably, asking if they were fans of SNSD, and of course out came the tattoo.

The girl was particularly amused, but it wasn’t until the next morning when we arrived in Vientiene that I found out the other Koreans weren’t travelling with her. She was travelling alone through Laos. When I talked to her at the bus station when we arrived, I assumed she was stopping in Vientiene like the rest of us. It was only as we were preparing to move off that I realised she was getting back on the bus to continue on further into Laos. I admit I was quite taken with her and I very much wanted to talk to her further, but it hadn’t even occurred to me that she might not be stopping in Vientiene.

I briefly considered just jumping back on the bus myself and travelling on with her to wherever she was headed, on the now nearly empty bus, because I was that desperate to spend even a few more hours looking at her sweet face and pretty smile, but I told myself that even by my standards, jumping on a bus I hadn’t paid extra for, going to an unknown destination in a remote country just so that I could spend a few more moments desperately soaking up this lovely Korean girl’s warm smile and charming, shy demeanour was… maybe unacceptably crazy. But I nearly did it. In the pursuit of love, or even the brief company of a pretty Korean girl, I would have taken off to wherever she was going, in the hope that maybe we could spend a little time together.

Do I regret not jumping back on the bus ? Yeah. I do. But I also know there’s every chance we wouldn’t have said more than a few words and she would have had plans that didn’t include me, and I would end up in the middle of nowhere by myself wondering what to do next and feeling disappointed that it had been in vain. On the other hand… I had no plans in Laos anyway. I may have ended up having some fun adventures on the path that I did take, with the Canadian guys, but what would have happened had I suddenly decided to jump back on the bus to follow the amazingly beautiful Korean girl further into Laos ?

We pick and choose our paths in life every day, but I remember that moment of indecision feeling like the most pivotal moment in my life for a couple of seconds, as though the decision I made might change my life forever. But in the end I guess fear and my tiredness having robbed me of a little spontaneity meant that I chose the weaker choice and I stayed in Vientiene instead of chasing some pretty girl I had barely spoken to across a foreign country tens of thousands of kilometres from my home. Would that I had some magical machine that could let me see what alternate path my time in Laos would have turned out like if I had followed the Korean girl instead of the Canadian guys. Would that I had had the impulsiveness at that moment to just jump on a bus to nowhere in pursuit of a pretty Korean smile.

I won’t say I’ll always remember that Korean girl’s face (I have sadly forgotten her name since it has been so many months since I met her), but I think I will probably always remember that split second decision in Laos. Follow the girl down the rabbit hole, or follow the westerners on a different adventure. Life is full of choices. I guess I’m just happy that chance even took me to Laos and I spent a small amount of time talking to this girl and making her laugh a few times. As it turns out it wasn’t my future, but it was a moment where I shared some time smiling at someone from a far away culture I was fascinated by, and maybe that experience will lead me to jump down the rabbit hole in pursuit of impulsive promises the next time the opportunity presents itself. Maybe it was just a little precursor, to make me think about things and evaluate how far I would go in pursuit of something.

Sorry if that meandering introspective self-analysis bored you, but to be honest it’s more for my own benefit than anyone else’s. It’s to remind me of that moment. That choice that I made. The way this girl’s smile made me want follow her to the ends of the earth just to see her smile at me one more time. I am crazy, right ? I just wish I could say I were crazy enough to follow her. But there’ll be a next time.

After the photos is a video that I took of me and the two Canadian guys on the first part of our trek across Laos. This video starts after we’ve left Vientiene proper and gotten out onto the “highway”, but before the road really went to shit and I had my accident. But you can see in some of the photos the way the road ends so suddenly, so you can understand why I say now… don’t ever travel through Laos on a motorbike at night time ! Oh, the music in the video is Thai band “The Sun”, who’s first four albums I bought in Laos and who I spent a great deal of time listening to when I was bedridden in my hotel in Vientiene.

Response code is 404

This entry was posted in Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *