Luang Prabang was so far the most beautiful spot we’ve found here in South East Asia. Simple and seducing – the old French colonial style architecture, the laid back attitude of the Lao people and finally some baguette and tasty crepes for our European tastes. Accompanied by a stunning landscape and a whole lot of sunshine, Luang Prabang was alluring and promising from the first day we set our foot into the city..
Except that the prettiness also couldn’t make up for the annoyances at night. While we were trying to chill out on the front porch of our hotel, a little thief came by to sell us some of his beloved Opium. When we turned him down, he was angry enough to grab one of our bags and fly. As much as we loved being in Luang Prabang, after that, everything we tried had a bitter note attached to it, and thus we fled as soon as possible.
Being a tourist often sounds and looks more romantic than it feels. You rarely see touts and thieves like that on the postcards travelers send back home to their families. You don’t feel the mosquito stings, you don’t endure fifteen hour bus rides, the sweat running down your face, nothing of that ever gets home, just a wave and a smiling kid on a picture with you and your rented bike. There are good things and bad things about travelling, but what Luang Prabang taught me is that no matter how difficult it is to go and see another culture: it’s worth it. Even the bad side. I’ll try and remember that the next time I point and laugh at a lost tourist in Berlin who’s just trying to find a good place to be; he’s probably had a rough ride, let’s show ourselves from the best possible side we have and make it up to him.
We left Laos after a short stop in Vang Vieng because of sudden illness (don’t fuck with fever while you’re in the jungle)- but I really do want to say thank you to the wonderful Lao people we’ve met on the way, and those contagious smiles we received. It all made up for that one single bad encounter.