Lao People's Democratic Republic

Right: Tat Kuang Si, Luang Prabang Province.

Laos was a revelation to me. I wasn't expecting too much and initially I had only planned to spend about a week there if I had time but the reports coming from folk who had just come across (to Vietnam) were glowing and it really started to sound like my kind of place.

Eventually I spent a month there and loved every minute of it.....

Tat Kuang Si

Dateline: July 17 - June 15, 2004.
Route: Savannakhet, Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw by road. Phongsali via Muang Ngoi Neua and Muang Khua by river. Trekking in Muang Ngoi Neua and Phongsali province. Phongsali to Udomxai back through Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Savannakhet, Pakse, Si Phan Don by road, and into Cambodia by boat on the Mekong River.

Dateline: April 9 - May 8, 2008.
Route: International bus from Thailand to Pakse, on to Champasak, Vientiane, Phonsavan, Sam Neua, Vieng Xai, Sop Hao. Back to Sam Neua then on to Vieng Thong, Nong Khiaw, Udomxai, trekking in Muang Sing, Vieng Phoukha, Huay Xai and back into Thailand at Chiang Khong

There is the scenery, and the cities are pleasantly small, but the real selling point to me was the people whom I found to be very laid back and unassuming. Strolling along the waterfront in Vientiane the tuk-tuk driver enquired just the once and when I declined, nonchalantly said "O.K." and went back into a reclining position, feet up on the handle bars, content to resume napping in the shade.

"I made it Ma, I'm on top of the world" Akha village, Phongsali Province.

The Laos People's Democratic Republic Facts:

235,000 sq km
borders: China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand.
population: 5,500,000
ethnicity: Thai-Kedai, Austro-Asiatic (Mon-Khmer), Miao-Yao (Hmong-Mien), Sino-Tibetan, Chinese 2-5%, Vietnamese, North Indians, Pakistanis, Cambodians.