10,809 km so far.
Laos’ official name is Lao PDR, as in People’s Democratic Republic. Travellers joke that this stands for Please Don’t Rush. Things take longer here, people move more slowly.
Industry isn’t a big part of the north of Laos. This definitely isn’t China, and it isn’t even Vietnam. The most industry we have seen is one quarry.
Laos is in the bottom 20 poorest countries in the world. Partly this explains the slow nature of life here. People are farmers and basket weavers. They work at the loom making beautiful skirts, they run small shops from the front of their woven bamboo-walled homes.
There is no need to rush when there is no factory or assembly line, and life is based on the rhythms of nature: planting, growing, and harvest.
We’re Going Nowhere
When we checked in to our cabana yesterday, there were a couple in the cabin next to ours who told me they had been in Nong Khiaw for a week, although they hadn’t planned on it. It is just so relaxed and peaceful that they decided to stay a while.
This seems common here. There are several adventure travel companies and restaurants run by expats who presumably showed up one day, fell in love with the speed of life, and decided to stay.
We have also decided to spend a couple of nights here. Our bamboo hut overlooking the river is beautiful, the bed is comfortable, and despite the abundance of dreadlocked backpackers in town, we like it here.
It is an incredible setting at the base of karst mountains, with the Nam Ou river cutting the town into two halves.
The restaurant we chose for lunch today had a sign outside saying they serve Slow Food. They use locally grown produce, produced in traditional, time-honoured ways, by a group of local women.
It also took about 45 minutes for them to make our simple meal of a salad and an omelette.
We were in no rush, and they had warned us, so no complaints. We did think that maybe they had always been this slow, and the Slow Food sign was just a way of making the tourists stop whining.
This morning, we wandered slowly through town, admiring the elephants…
…patting the puppies…
…and meeting the monkeys.
The monkey seems to be a pet of some French expats, but it runs freely around the town.
We spent the afternoon in the hammock, drinking cold Beerlao, reading, writing, and watching the world of the river flow by.
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Here in Laos everyone is looking around, seeing life, embracing it, and living it.
Yes, it may be poor in terms if GDP and democracy, but people’s lives seem rich, full, and happy. ♥