I hated Laos – with a strong emphasis on the ending of that brief sentence. I remember my mug, “intrepid” face as I met people in Northern Vietnam, after spending a little over a month in Thailand and Laos I was a self proclaimed backpacking expert. In the usual conversations with new, one-night-friends, some of them would mention their travel plans to Laos and I’d scoff “ha! I wouldn’t even go back there, it was awful”. Almost two years on, I was scrolling through my photos of Laos and I really failed to find evidence of what I hated so much. Maybe because I’d only taken photos of things I loved, or maybe because there wasn’t really that much I didn’t like about Laos. Maybe I had just made a mistake.
It’s hard, when you travel to new places, not to pigeon hole them. Hoi An, one of my favourite places in all of Asia, became the better version of Luang Prabang and Prague is the much more beautiful and charming sister of Bratislava. In the beginning of all my travels, I was so set on finding my new favourite place, that I forgot to take places as they were. I never arrived in a new city or country with a fresh mind, instead my mind was clouded with comparisons.
Like sniffing ten different perfumes in a row, with nothing to break them up my senses were overwhelmed.
I needed to find my travel coffee beans.
I needed to cleanse my travel palate: I needed time. [Tweet This]
When I think back to all that I hated about Laos, trivial things come to mind. I didn’t like the food, the horrible food poisoning I got in Vang Vieng, the coldness of the people and while tubing was fun, I hated the tackiness of it all. Drunk, barely clothed westerners using one of the most beautiful rivers I’ve ever seen as their boozy playground. In the dodgy cafes, there was a constant stream of Friends and Family guy reruns and it felt like a place entirely built for disrespectful westerners to get annihilated. But, there was so much beauty there and I am sure there is so much to discover.
After leaving Laos, almost two years ago, I swore that I would never return. There were better places to go, I was certain of it. But now, after so long away, there’s a part of me who is curious if I returned, would I feel the same? As a slightly older, hopefully wiser person, maybe I could find the sparkle there that I perhaps overlooked. So many people loved Laos, and honestly, I wish I had too.
Have you been anywhere that you’ve sworn not to return?
I’m also curious to hear what other people thought of tubing. I had such mixed feelings about it.