Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The wild centre of Laos

From Vientiane, we boarded the bus to Tha Khaek, and roughly a minute later, a hoard of about 10 Lao guys stormed the bus. No they did not rob us, they just wanted to sell sweets. And their technique was cruel. Give the stuff to you and ask and ask and ask and ask again. I bought one strawberry sweet and given the pressure he put on me, that was a good achievement!

The bus ride to Tha Khaek was a lot of fun. It was a non-aircon local bus, so my friend got a totally brown shirt by the end of the trip due to the dusty roads and the open windows. I on the other hand got allergic reactions on my arms, no idea why. The landscape was fascinating. All in all it looked like Australia, the vegetation, the flatness and also the colour of the earth. Once in a while we would cross a huge river, and spot dramatic mountains on the horizon.

To the front left, I noticed a boy sitting who looked a bit different than the others. He wore clean clothes and had hints of a sense of fashion. He was young but looked quite ok. He also turned around every 5 minutes or so and when I saw him, he turned away hastily. About halfway through the trip, I noticed that he belonged to a family of 8 (!) and that his parents were sitting next to me. Ouch, luckily I didnt flirt too much, but anyway, it was cute to see how happy he was to see a gay farang!

Tha Khaek is THE place i fell in love with most during my Lao trip. The city has a historic, French style centre and is sitting on the Mekong with a few bars lined along the riviera. The sunset over Thailand was absolutely fabulous. Before sunset however, we went on a stroll through the side-streets of Tha Khaek and we found Vietnamese shophouses, huge new villas, dirt roads with kids playing and many unbelievebly friendly locals. I could not believe how happy the people of Tha Khaek were to see me!

The next day, we went on a cave-trip with a personal guide which would lead us to inland towards Vietnam, where many caves as well as a lake can be looked at. The caves were stunning, especially the buddha cave, where I got a personalised new year blessing from a monk, wishing me a beautiful wife and success in football. This is also where I lost the cover of my swank DSLR camera - a good beginning to the new year!

Then we went swimming in a lake inmidst mountains. There was no one to be seen, or was there? A group of 5 boys were swimming, playing and jumping in the lake - an amazing sight! Interestingly, an older farang suddenly swam past me and eyed me suspiciously. There was also an older very feminine looking Lao guy and another Lao man on the scene, all belonging to the same group. Very odd, I could not figure out their relationships...

When I came out of the lake (of course pretty much at the same time as the guys) one guy just walked up to me and started talking to me. Sadly, I had to go as the guide and my friend were waiting for us and I couldnt really justify holding up our trip. However, I struggle to forget this guy's friendliness, frankness, and to be honest, his looks too. I just find it incredible that someone would just come up to me and start talking to me - amazing Laos.

Then, we had to move on south - to Savannakhet. I do not know what to write about this town, except that it was about the biggest dump I had ever seen. Laos is poor, I know that but the dirtiness, the dark streets, barking dogs and boys on bikes paired with just about the shittiest riverside and the worst food in Laos did not leave a good impression.

That is not the whole story though, there has to be some gay twist. For some reason, there was a restaurant cum drinking place right next to our guesthouse. I asked my friend if she wanted to drink some Beer Lao and she agreed.

As we sat down, I slowly started to notice that this must have been the local gay hangout. Out of all the people in and around the restaurant only my friend and another fag-hag were not gays. One guy eyed every single man walked past - and he was a hottie. Behind me, a femme guy listening to Thai pop and dressed like a semi-fashionable Bangkokian. further behind me, some guy sitting on the street, constantly eyeing me.

By the time I left, they had left too and I talked a bit to the three other guys who were still left. One was lovely and he told me how well I could speak Lao etc... He was nice and spoke good English too. I left soon however, possibly the right choice, because I was drunk already.

In the morning, we left Laos and right now, I am typing this from an internet cafe in Khorat.

Laos was amazing and I fell in love with this country, especially its people. There was a surprising amount of gay contact and interest and I think I could have had "closer" contact with at least four was surprisingly not an easy place to be in a relationship, and to be honest, it was a serious test for me. My time in Laos of course fits nicely in with the articles I wrote about "being in a relationship".

I will go and have dinner now and write a wrap-up article about Laos as soon as I have settled back in Bangkok.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure all your readers will join with me in wishing you and your wife a very happy new year. :) Ian

BB said...

Thank you. And I hope you dont splash us with too much water...:)