05 December 2008

Sabai Dee Luang Prabang

It's been a fairly busy first month on the road but as soon as we landed in Luang Prabang we could feel the pace begin to slow down a few gears. In fact I think we may have slipped into neutral. A lot of people we've met who have been to Laos have said how relaxing and chilled out it is compared to many of it's Southeast Asian neighbors and you can actually feel it the moment you step off the plane.

When we were on the train coming back from Sapa in Vietnam a girl was telling us a joke about Laos that went something along the lines of - How do you tell the difference between a motorcyclist in Vietnam and Laos? In Laos they ride their motorbikes with their umbrellas up. Probably not the most side splitting joke we've ever heard but it's certainly true.

The other thing that immediately strikes you as different is the lack of hawking, hassling and high pressure selling that goes on. In most places in Southeast Asia as soon as it is spotted that you are a "falang" or Westerner you will be targeted! Usually to buy something but also to take a taxi, trip, excursion, tuk-tuk, boat, guided tour, visit my bar, restaurant, guest house, hotel, shop . . . The list is endless and mainly designed to extract your money from your pocket. On most days you just ignore it and get on with whatever it is that you are doing but sometimes it gets a little wearing.

On several occasions we've seen various Westerners snap under the constant harassing that can go on and have stand up arguments in the street with locals. There is none of that pressure or hassling here and it makes such a refreshing change. And they probably sell more because of it as people are not sacred that they will get jumped on the second they stop and look at something. There's even a road sign that should be adopted in Hanoi.

No comments:

Post a Comment