VIENTIANE, Laos—Well, I wanted the adventure of slow travel, and with the Vientiane and the bus ride to Hanoi, I got it.

It’s been a while since my last post. I apologize for that, but I’ve been writer’s blocked something fierce, and have only now started to get my head around the month I spent flitting around Southeast Asia. But now, I hope to get back to a more robust writing schedule. Read More

LUANG PRABANG, Laos—The humorous tag for Lao PDR is “Lao—please don’t rush,” but after two days on a boat, I found myself unable to slow my bolt through the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, eager as I was to get to Vietnam. But that didn’t stop me from spending almost a week in the “mysterious” and “forgotten” land of Laos (as the travelers’ narratives usually call it.)

After our bus ride down the river, our somewhat irritable and frazzled collection of river rats pulled up to the wharf in Luang Prabang, Lao’s old royal capital until the communists took over in 1975. The golden stupa on the top of Mount Phou Si glowed warmly in the dying light of the day, while the usual touts tried to attract us to various hotels and guesthouses. Lots of offers of “cheap rooms!” and “free wi-fi!” surrounded me, but ignoring them, I trudged up the hill and made my way to the Hotel of the Trois Nagas, a boutique joint that was a bit overpriced ($200/night! In Laos!) but a lovely tonic to two days on the Mekong.

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MEKONG RIVER—If the first day leaving Chiang Mai was somewhat leisurely, the morning of the second day seemed almost frantic. Well, as frantic as life gets in northern Thailand—which is to say, it’s still remarkably laid back.

The owner of the guesthouse gently knocked on our doors at 7 a.m., but I had already been up and packed for half an hour. The excitement at finally traveling down one of Asia’s great waterways had kept me from sleeping much that night, and I was anxious to get on the river. Its languid flow, just beneath the posts of the guesthouse, tantalised me. Read More