I cross the border into Laos after seven weeks in Thailand and spend two days drifting down the Mekong River into my first city—what should have been a sign of the slow pace of this country.
The house next to my hostel burned down a few days before I arrive, which I guess was scary but relatively harmless for the hostel itself (except for knocking out the WiFi, to the chagrin of every backpacker staying there).
And yet, the 19-year-old hostel manager throws a party, complete with monks, offerings, and a massive outdoor feast to celebrate. Because here, they are more happy about the fact that no one got hurt than they are upset about any minor damage that might’ve occurred.
I try to learn something from this, but I can’t help getting more and more frustrated by the crawling internet speeds at various cafes around town. I’m not impressed with Luang Prabang, a curiously lacking UNESCO World Heritage site where I can’t seem to find the culture I found in the Medina of Marrakech or the beauty I saw in the Burgos Cathedral.
And then I finally find my new friends by accident at a local bar with an amazing view—without the assistance of technology—and I find myself slowly adjusting to this easygoing way of life. We spend all night bowling (typical in Laos), before I take a bumpy four hour bus ride up the worst roads I’ve ever experienced to Nong Khiaw.
It is beautiful… and I might be splitting my time here between lazing the riverbank beach, kayaking, and job searching.