As my time in Laos quickly approaches its end, I feel its time to post my glib observations. Here are some of the things people from Laos like to do:
1) Drink Beer Lao, as ubiquitous as mosquito’s and twice as nice. I with them on this one, its ace.
2) Wearing their Tee’s rolled up their midriff. When it gets a bit hot, which it has a habit of doing, this is the way all the fly kids wear their Tee’s. Accept no substitute.
3) Support Liverpool FC. You’ll see the odd other premiership jersey about but Laos is Liverpool to the core. They have massive parties when Liverpool are playing in a serious game. By massive I mean a couple of thousand people watching huge TV screens.
4) Cycling while holding an open umbrella. This is the speciality of Laotian school girls who gracefully cycle along shading themselves from the hot sun with an umbrella.
5) Wearing face masks. Like the Thais, the Laotians will throw on a mask if there is a plume of smoke to be seen. Which there often is.
6) Playing with mobile phones. This is a big one. While at the plain of jars my tour and I waited for fifteen minutes while the tour guides rolled up their Tee’s and took photos of each other posing in the others shades.
7) Karaoke. If you get a local bus for a long trip and you see a TV on it….prepare. I got blasted on a 7 hour trip from Phonsavan to Vang Vieng. It didn’t really bother me that much as I found it kind of hypnotic. An Italian chap I was with however was fit to put a gun in his mouth at the halfway point.
8) Light smoking fires at dawn and at dusk. Principally to get rid of the Mossies. I did find it gave me a cough at least I blamed the fire and not the cheap Laotian fags I was smoking.
9) Ropey ATMs. Just bring a decent stash of dollars or baht with you.
10) Drink Lao Lao. Out in the sticks this is how the roll. Rice whiskey! Which can be strong beJesus, up to 90% proof. Seriously they should think about using this stuff as a fuel source.
Overall I loved Laos. The people in general are lovely. Even the Tuk Tuk drivers in Vientianne are great criac, more than willing to have a joke with you despite you turning down their services. But don’t expect it to be super cheap, its not. Being landlocked they have to import everything overland. In a lot of ways I found Thailand cheaper. The food in Laos is excellent. When you tire of Asian cooking there’s good Indian and Western food to be had.