If you ever travel to Southeast Asia you should spend most of your time here (Laos), and probably in Northern Thailand. It is mountainous, but not like the mountains we are used to, these mountains look like granite columns thrust straight up out of the jungle, (it isn’t actually granite, but some kind of softer stone), and these massive fingers are covered in the densest jungle I’ve ever seen. It is incredibly rural, we went on a scooter ride to the plain of the jars through about 10 miles of Laotian backcountry (this is where the motorcycle comment came from mom) and its just mindblowing how rural the whole country is.
The capital, Vientiane, the biggest city in the country, has 200,000 people, making it smaller than Greensboro. We are in Vang Vieng right now, which is probably the western tourist capital of Laos because there are several clear, big, broad rivers here you can float down while visiting shoreside bars, I feel like I am in the international terminal of Charles deGaul or Berlin or something, so many different people. We were in Phonsavan last night, almost nobody there, just a dusty village with which our family is familiar, surrounded by mountains and clouds and scenery and ancient history.
Words do not exist that describe the green this country is. An adolescent rice paddy is almost impossible to comprehend it is such a verdant, lush, neon, thriving, vivacious, loud, aggressive green. It is greener than green, it appears a photoshopped landscape, and then of course beyond the terraced rice paddies are the dark furious masses of jungle. The insects are a force, their noise is tangible, we saw old bomb craters and caves where these people hid and lived for years (if you want to be particularly mad at our country’s history, just check wikipedia about the carpetbombing of Laos, we dropped more ordinance on this little neutral country than the combined tonnage of every single bomb, bullet, and shell spent during WWII by ALL sides, the entire eastern half of the country lived in caves and tunnels for about 6 years)