I spent a long time in Vientiane and almost did not go anywhere else during my stay here. This was a sort of 'vacation' from travelling. As you probably know I'm travelling and working at the same time; this can be very exhausting, as I have to spend several hours in front of the computer and then be a tourist during my free time. I get carried away with the local bars, trips to nature and all the sightseeing. I found that this was almost impossible to keep up for a long time, specially in this heat. So, I decided to just be in Vientiane for a while; work, relax and make preparations for the next months, in which I intend to visit China, Mongolia and Russia (and hopefully some other countries).
Though I really prefer Vietnam and would love to spend more than just 3 months there, I'm pretty sure I would not have been able to work much or make any preparations for the rest of my trip - I'd be going out every day, chasing pretty girls, playing at the jam sessions, going to nature and trying to learn the language. Here in Vientiane, on the other hand, there is not much to do, not many pretty girls around and I couldn't find a single jam session (though I did find a studio with amazing drum kits, which I rented for very low prices). Many people asked me, baffled- "Why are you here for such a long time? This is so boring!". Well, I'm lazy. I liked it here, but if you're not into lazying around, indeed there is very little to enjoy.
Nevertheless, I managed to learn a few things here and was quite happy with their rhythm, which is totally different from Vietnam, where people are busy, there is a lot of traffic and things happen all the time. This place is the opposite: most people are really chilled out, things are done slowly and every one seems to be taking it easy. A long time ago, I read this saying somewhere: the Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians watch it and the Lao listen to it grow.
One evening, I met a French development consultant here. His work consists in going to developing countries and giving advice, based on what worked for the most developed nations. He told me that in Lao, wherever he goes - factories, farms, etc - there is always a point when people tell him "Please, can you just stop now? We have learned new methods and have acquired new tools, but we don't want to develop any more - this is good enough for us". I wish more people had this attitude. Not that I would stop developing my country when it reached the state that Lao is at, but there is always a point in which no further development is necessary - sometime, it's just enough. And it's up to each one to decide when they have reached that point. This is a very poor country but they seem genuinely happy, so it follows that there is no need for more 'development' - that would only make things worse, in my opinion. Happiness is the final goal, not a space program or a nuclear arsenal.
It's a strange feeling, to be here for such a long time and leave now, knowing that it's very unlikely that I will ever come back. I think it's the first time I spent so much time in a city which I don't see myself coming back to in the future. I do hope to see South East Asia again, go through some more of Thailand and Vietnam, then move down to Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. But Vientiane is probably just a... "one month stand". And it was an excellent experience.
Tomorrow I fly to Beijing. Let's see what I'll find there.