Laos to Thailand

May 2011

Bumped and shaken for eleven hours on a bus over the torturous mountain road between the towns of Luang Prabang and Vientiane in Laos, I had ample time to reflect on the vicissitudes of independent travel in Southeast Asia. I was one of only three westerners riding the bus that day, and if the ride itself were not enough, my seatmate, a young male Lao, was a narcoleptic whose head kept lolling on my shoulder. To complete the picture, the peasant woman in front of me had reclined her setback all the way. Then the driver’s young assistant came up the aisle passing out barf bags, and I knew I this would not be one of my happiest travel days.

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Surprising Cambodia – May, 2011

I write “surprising” because knowing a bit of this country’s traumatic history of the past 50 years, I find the people to be so gentle and outwardly well-adjusted.  The Cambodians I’ve come in contact with are the most gracious and hospitable I’ve met so far on this Southeast Asian journey.

Cambodia has suffered immensely. From the American carpet bombing of the borderlands alongside Vietnam, to the short, genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge, to the ensuing civil war that didn’t end until 1990, life here for most was a prolonged agony. And yet, the country is recovering, rediscovering its pride and slowly reestablishing its traditional Khmer culture. However, it is desperately poor, and corruption is a big problem.

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Vietnam Days

May, 2011

It’s Tuesday the 10th of May, and I’m in Cambodia where I arrived yesterday by bus from Vietnam. Although hot (and I don’t mean to pun about the weather, which is in the high 90s) to explore this interesting small country, I wanted to take a little time to put down my feelings and observations about the last 20days in Vietnam while they’re still fresh.

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