Globe-Trotting (LAOS): “It’s not the destination but the journey.”

(Cheesy, but true.)

Apparently, my yagit camera is not so yagit after all!

No filters, no post-processing.  🙂

The thing is, aside from the plane tickets and hotel booking, I’m not the type to prepare a travel itinerary.  Sure, I have a list of must-see, must-do, must-eat but 99% of the time, I don’t stick to that list.  You can call me “whimsical”.  🙂

(I never force myself into following a schedule while I’m traveling because for Christ’s sake, I have a day job where EVERYTHING must be scheduled or hell breaks loose.)

The Sweetest Thing

Take the ride up to Kuang Si.  Most travelers prearrange a tour ahead of time (which is probably cheaper, I admit) but all I did was to inform the hotel manager the night before and he was able to secure a vehicle that would take me to the waterfalls the very next morning.  By “vehicle” I thought it would be the Lao version of a tuktuk.  Turns out, it was an air-conditioned van driven by a young Lao.  Possibly my age.  Definitely educated.

There are, of course, rule breakers.

Generally, I’m not a fan of small talk.  Well, I’m not fond of talking to just anybody at all.  Once upon a time, I was probably this major chatterbox but all that changed when I realized that when some people are given the opportunity to open their mouths, all that comes out is total bullshit.  😀  So I try not to do the same.

On a self-timer.

This young Lao introduced himself as “Phet”.  The van is owned by his family which means, they’re one of the Lao families lucky enough to have escaped poverty.

He mistook me for Thai.  When I told him where I’m from, I inwardly sighed in relief when he didn’t declare “Manny Pacquiao!” (triumphantly, I might add).  Though he earned a college degree, I don’t think his knowledge is extensive when it comes to Geography.  He thought the Mekong River stretches to the Philippines!  😀

For some reason, Kuang Si is some sort of a haven for bears too.

I think it was out of politeness or perhaps he wanted to practice his English (he’s fluent, so I don’t think he really needs to) but we exchanged stories the entire 45-minute ride up to and down from the Kuang Si.  When we saw a bunch of kids wheeling their bicycles on the road, he told me they were let off early from school because the next day is the most important Buddhist holiday in Laos.  I got a kick out of that because it encouraged me to ask about the education system in his country.  There are more, but here are three things I found out:

(a) Tuition fee for Primary School, one year = 250,000.00 Kip. That’s approximately USD31.00— where USD1.00 = 8,000 kip.

(b) Tuition fee for College, one year = 3,000,000.00 Kip. That’s approximately USD374.00. College and University are two different things. College = 3 years. University = 5 years.

(c)  Yes, in school, they do Math. (He didn’t know the term “Math” though so I had to explain the concept further.)

Ang cute lang.  🙂

On Lao tradition, this totally cracked me up— People throw glasses/ buckets of water at you during the New Year. To cleanse you of bad spirits. The falang (slang for Westerners) are angered by this seemingly random act when they come visit in May.

We also touched on the subject of Lao government but I chose to minimize my probing out of respect.  Political issues are always sensitive so I limited my questions to their democratic structure and voting rights.  We agreed that these are “same-same (his words, not mine) but different” from the Philippines.

I was caught off guard by his aptitude and personality, I almost didn’t want to say good-bye.  I didn’t ask him to be my friend on Facebook either because I’m not cheap like that.  😀  Suffice it to say that in this lifetime, the memory is enough.

Oh, by the way, the waterfalls are lovely.  😀


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