HANOI—Hanoi! The very word sounds exotic, doesn’t it? I arrived Oct 15 after a—I kid you not—26-hour bus ride from Vientiane to Hanoi. And just as all happy families are alike, all awful bus rides in Southeast Asia share miseries. In this case, the points of common awfulness include: A long trip over bad, Read More
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, Read More
Luang Prabang, the former royal capital, is being developed as a tourist destination by the very government that killed off the royal family. If this strikes you as a little cynical, well, welcome to the club.
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, Read More
So I’m back in Chiang Mai, the charming little town that anchors northern Thailand, but tomorrow I head further north, past Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong/Huay Xai, where I’ll catch a “slow boat” down the Mekong to Luang Prabang, the royal capital of the Kingdom of Laos until the communists swept through in 1975 and renamed the whole country the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. I confess, I know next to nothing about Laos, but everyone says the place is beautiful and laid back. I do know they make a tasty beer there, and that the country’s short name, “Lao PDR” generally means “Laos, Please Don’t Rush.”