May 22nd, 2013
Why am I writing about illicit activities in Laos? If you’ve traveled around SE Asia then you already know the reputation of the countries. Thailand is the best: anything you want to experience can be had in Thailand. Malaysia kind of sucks but Kuala Lumpur is awesome. Singapore is very nice and high end, also quite expensive. Cambodia is on the rise. Vietnam has a lot of great stuff to explore, good mix of activity, great food.
Laos, however, is that boring, sleepy, landlocked country where there is not much going on. As far as travelers that love it, they are all the hippie stoners (weed is very cheap and easy to get here). It’s the poorest country in SE Asia. No night life. Maybe a nice break from the craziness that Thailand can be, but all in all, best to make it a short trip.
I’ve been to Vientiane on three separate trips now. The first two occasions were bad experiences. I was just here to get a new visa for Thailand so I could get back to the fun country. On both previous trips I’d heard that “Vang Vieng is fun” and always just flew into Vientiane, dropped my passport off with a visa agent (someone who will go to the consulate for you and get you a new visa – AKA sweet deal), stayed one night in some lame hotel and caught the dawn bus to Vang Vieng. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t a bad routine. However, before coming back for the third time I decided I was going to try and do an in-and-out within a few days and skip Vang Vieng.
In deciding this I asked myself, “What if there is actually some cool stuff to do in Vientiane? I’ve never actually checked.” Just having the idea that there might some fun to be had, led me to decide to explore this slow-paced little city.
I know a few things about people and cities. First, no matter what “the law states,” vice and corruption will always find a way to exist. Second, in a city of more than 50,000 people there will always be drugs and hookers.
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February 1st, 2013
This supernova is a good representation of what is going to happen inside your brain after you go through the exercise in this post.
Warning: This post is an experiment. In it I will lay out some stuff that I can only describe as, “new age, psycho babble, weird, gobbledygook”. Normally, I am vehemently against that sort of thing but I’m a pragmatist first so I do what works. I am going to present you with a mental exercise that I’ll ask you to go through privately on your own time. I cannot explain to you how it works, I can only tell you that it does. It is up to you to suspend any disbelief and go for it.
The only thing you are risking is a little bit of your time and some brain juice. Since you’re already on my blog I know you have some of both to spare so invest them here. You will thank yourself later.
I first went through this exercise in the spring of 2010 and have continued to repeat it at least annually since. I think of this as a software update for my brain and each year I go in and make tweaks/changes so that my software is always running at maximum efficiency.
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January 27th, 2013
There is something going on in Vang Vieng, Laos.
I’ve heard that 20 years ago this little mountain village was nothing more than a brief stop for buses to refuel on the long drive from Vientiane in the south (Laos’ capital) to Luang Prabang in the north (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). That is no longer the case. Now, Vang Vieng is a destination in and of itself for anyone on the Banana Pancake trail (the backpackers circuit around SouthEast Asia).
Without a doubt this tiny place is worth the 4-hour bus ride through dangerously curvy mountain passes.
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October 22nd, 2012
If you have ever wished that you could travel the world then this post is for you. Here is a no B.S. guide to your first major travel experience. Would anybody argue that the man in this photograph would feel pretty silly if he knew that for the amount of change he gets panhandling in a day he could live a comfortable life on a beach across the world? If only he was taught the importance of savings as a kid.
It is a lot easier than you might think. For me it was like having sex: after I did it the first time I thought, “Why the hell did I wait so long? This rocks!”
Except… it’s better than that. I mean anyone can have sex, and most people do at least once in their lifetime. Less than 1% of people will ever truly experience traveling around the world.
See you on the other side.
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