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Sunday, April 28, 2013

23 Random Things about Laos

I spent 3 weeks in Laos, meandering down from their northeastern border with Vietnam to their southern border with Cambodia. During these 21 days, I visited Muang Khua, Nong Khiaw, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Pakse, Tad Lo and the 4,000 islands. Following are some interesting things I found about Laos while I explored different parts of the country over these three weeks.

1) Laos is may be the most laid back country in the world. Do not be surprised when it takes 2 hours for your order to be serviced in some places of Laos.

2) Laos have impeccable 2 lane highways running across their country from the north to the south. This was built by Japan in return for some of Laos’s forest cover.

3) Vientiane is possibly the quietest capital in the world.

4) After a lot of bad news over its drug related deaths, Vang Vieng sells no drugs by its river even though tubing activities have started off again.

5) This is one of those countries, which has 4,000 islands on its largest river, the Mekong.

6) When you wish Sabaidee (hello) to the Lao people, you are bound to be greeted with a louder Sabaidee and a huge smile.

7) Most of the country is mountainous terrain interspersed with large rivers.

8) There is a lot of Hinduism in the folklore of Laos.

9) The fish larp and sticky rice is one of the most favorite foods of Laos.

10) Even though Laos has a lot of forests, it is very difficult to find wildlife in them.

11) The boats of Laos use very low quality diesel and dump the exhaust on the surface of the water. This is bound to affect the country heavily in the long run as they are primarily a river-oriented economy.

12) Apart from tourism, there is hardly any noteworthy industry in Laos.

13) The Lao Kip is not valid outside of Laos.

14) Laos has plenty of waterfalls with copious amounts of water even during the dry season.

15) Thick Lao coffee with condensed milk and sugar is one of the highlights of Laos.

16) The easiest place to get a visa in the world is Laos’s capital Vientiane.

17) The people of Laos speak Thai as they watch Thai television, but this rule doesn’t apply to the people of Thailand.

18) Luang Prabang is a tourist town. The true Luang Prabang is on the other side of the Mekong river and is more a shanty town.

19) Some people in Laos are really rich. You can see this through Land Rovers, Range Rovers and other big cars in the capital near big houses. But, the bulk of the country is still very poor.

20) Laos drives on the right side of the road.

21) Some of the airports in Laos have the quickest security checks in the world. In some cities, the airport ends after its starts.

22) Laos has the largest waterfall in South East Asia.

23) There are places in Laos where time does not move. It crawls. People do things only if they really want to, unlike other places where they need to do work. And that is why a lot of tourists prefer to travel to Laos for a totally relaxing holiday.



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