Laos: Laid back, Great Scenery, Great Coffee and… Polish Lessons?

Laos was awesome. It just was. The scenery was gorgeous. The coffee was great (I bought a kilo to take home with me). The people extremely nice. The pace of life was sooooooo laid back. Small cities (you could walk across the capital in a couple of hours). And best of all, it’s cheap.

For me Laos wasn’t suppose to be anything to hair-raisingly exciting but a place where I could write my script and chill out. And it was. I finished writing the 3rd draft while in Laos and began the process of getting the movie made (see “The Musician”).

I only visited three cities: Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang. I’ll try to keep my description real simple.

Vientiane: small, not many annoying Tuk-Tuk drivers, friendly, Nazeem’s on the riverside has great Indian food, cheap place to stay (70000 Kip for a double), and soccer (football) teams made up from the local businesses. Oh yea, and GREAT COFFEE.

Vang Vieng: lots of early 20-somethings thinking it’s HILARIOUS to get shit-faced and piss of the locals, lots of rain, only one main street, cheap and gorgeous places to stay, nice-looking caves, Nazeem’s again for Indian food. Annnd…. GREAT COFFEE.

Luang Prabang: phenomenal, except for the dengue fever. Chill atmosphere, elephants!, GREAT COFFEE, markets, and very accommodating hospital staff for my rabies vaccine. And a place called Nisha’s for Indian food. Favourite? Luang Prabang.

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The worst part about Laos is the roads between cities. Imagine a perfect road, then remove some sections every kilometre or so, then add a few mountains under it, sprinkle with potholes and you get the idea of what roads are like in Laos. The trip from Hanoi, if done in any other part of the world with good roads, wouldn’t take more than 6 hours. But here, it takes 24.

And then the Polish lessons. I met this gorgeous Polish girl waiting for the bus to depart Hanoi which would eventually take us through the roadways of Vietnam and Laos to Vientiane. It was on this journey that she tried to convince me that I am Polish and not Ukrianian (which is kinda true, I guess). After holding myself back from putting my faith in the sword and the sword into the Pole, I asked her what she meant. And thus began a month long international diplomatic mission. Since then I’ve learned that I know damn near nothing about my home country (Canada), next to nothing about my heritage (Ukrainian), am mixing up Polish with Ukrainian and French and Korean, Slavic women are beautiful and seductive, Asia is the best place to be employed as an English teacher but I feel the need to go back to Canada, and, to top it all off, the symptoms of dengue fever. Yes, SHE got bit by a mosquito and contracted the big DF. That means Mr. Ukrainian-but-not-Ukrainian gets to take care of Ms. Sick Polish History Girl. (She recovered fine and is now on her way through the rest of SE Asia).

After learning all of that, it’s off to Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Update: I later ventured to Poland and Ukraine to explore more about my family history and to rendezvous with my travel friend from Laos. You can read more about that trip starting here.