Friday, 2 December 2005
Last time I travelled in northern Laos I was in the midst of a four-month pre-corporate-law backpacking trip around SE Asia and I loved every second of it. The long windy bus ride to Luang Prabang was exciting, the crap roads adventurous, and the uncomfortable beds were just all part of the journey. Only four years later, I have to admit that I am getting soft. I almost threw up on the bus to Luang Prabang, I'm going to need several massages to recover from crap road to Vieng Pouka, and I actually carried my own pillow to assist me in sleeping in the beds. If I were to mix with a backpacker crowd right now, I would have absolutely no street cred.
I should just add for the record that our trip north was amazing. Despite the increase in tourists, Luang Prabang remains a truly magical place. The treks that we did into the hills to stay in Hmong and Akha villages enabled us to see some incredible scenery and remote villages with amazingly varied traditions and cultures. And it was great to catch up with Dad, Jono and Mic. I think that the real issue is that I am feeling ready to go home.
Its not that we have been here all that long, or that I wouldn't want to stay longer. It is just that now that I know that we are leaving so soon, my mind has raced ahead and I am already partly in Canberra, settling down, unpacking my books and kitchenware. Suddenly Laos seems so temporary, so inconsequential that I just want to move on and come to a comfortable halt in Canberra.
Instead, I am doing quite the opposite. Next week I am heading off to Hong Kong to attend the WTO Ministerials and, hopefully, get some good interviews for my thesis. From there I head to Southern Laos to meet P. and travel overland to Cambodia to meet Mum and Jono for Christmas. After Christmas P. and I will again travel overland into Thailand and have a few days rest on beautiful Koh Chang, before returning to Vientiane via Bangkok. Only 3 days later, Sally will arrive and we will have two weeks to pack up and clear out.
I guess by the time I come up for air I will have my wish - I will already be in Canberra. The question is: will I just want to be back here? Only time will tell...