It’s my “right” to rant

THE GOOD

Following our good start in VV, Laos, we had a few ups and downs. The ups began the following day with a trip to the “Blue Lagoon” and its associated cave. We jumped on the motorbike we had rented for a few days and begun the journey out of town, deciding that if we hit the lagoon, cool,  if not, no worries.

Blue Lagoon Laos

Spooky Blue Water

After about 30 minutes on a dusty, rocky road, with my testes firmly riding up into my stomach, we passed a sign for said lagoon and followed it to its end point. A few thousand kip here and there and we were parking up next to an insanely blue bit of water, the overhanging tree with swings and branch diving boards, extreme clarity of the water and loads of fish made it quite a surreal little area. I was definitely going for a swim, but first, to the bat cave!

After an unexpectedly steep ascent to the cave (damn that last smoke!) we reached the entrance and were assured by a hippie at the entrance that it was worth the climb (I guess my disheveled huffing and puffing appearance implied a difficult time reaching the entrance).

“Yeah whatever hippy freak.” I replied,

Actually it was more like, “Really, cool, thanks, looking forward to it”.

Now I am a fan of caves, not sure why, maybe it’s the caveman in me finally returning home, I like to think it is finding something outside of mans creation that has such magnitude and required such force and time to come into being, but it’s probably the caveman thing.

This cave has to be my favorite so far, it is enormous, goes on for miles and has deep cracks and crevasses in unseen and unmarked places, just waiting for the unwary caver to fall into. That’s one of the things I love about places like Asia, if you hurt yourself, bad luck, but no hand holding here.

biggest cave in Laos

That’s a big cave

So I wondered into the recesses of this ancient seabed, with Sarah firmly bored while trying to act like she didn’t mind looking at another hidden corner. “Yeah babe, wow, that is cool….yawn”. An hour or 2 later, hot, sweaty and completely out of superlative descriptions, we headed back down to the spooky blue water for a swim.

Icy cool water washed away the cave muck and refreshed my boggled mind, luvverly.

 THE BAD

Unfortunately the following couple days were not quite as splendid. Sleeping on our concrete slab was taking its tole and we were both pretty tired. Add to that a dodgy tour operator and we were ready to leave Vang Vieng. The guy from Ham Burger Tours (I realize the name should have made me more cautious) seemed friendly enough, and was somehow affiliated with our guest house. Sarah had wanted to tube, but away from the louts, so when he offered us a tubing experience away from the party, for a discounted price (they all say that), we thought, why the hell not.

In his sales pitch he had said the experience would be half a day, as we got closer to the event however, it went down to 3 hours, then 2, so that by the time we were actually getting in the river with our tube, he was saying 1 and a half hours (he also provided only 1 tube, saying it was more romantic, actually I dont think he had another tube), so we thought what the hell, we have paid and at least we get to see some scenery.

As it turned out we were on a shallow portion of the river so a lot of the time we got stuck on the floor, or the river wasnt flowing and we just sat, doing nothing. Well not really doing nothing, we got to watch the guy walking alongside the river and shouting out every few steps “Beautiful huh?”. 20 minutes after we got in he was shouting, “you finished now?” Man I wanted to thump this absolute bastard. I am also pretty sure that when we bought our bus tickets from him (purchased same time as “tubing experience”, otherwise I would not have come back), that he used a slight of hand to steal 50 000 and then claim I hadnt given him enough, being unsure myself I gave him another 50k. You may be wondering why I didnt make a scene or get my money back etc. Thing is we are in Laos, he lives here and knows the ropes, chances are if I made a scene I would just get shafted for everything.

This pretty much soured things for me and I just wanted out, I was starting to notice a pattern in Laos, every bastard involved in tourism seems sour, greedy, corrupt and full of false niceties. I don’t think tourism itself is the problem, I just think tourism brings out all the thieving, chip on their shoulder ‘I deserve your money’ wankers.

As you can tell I was not happy, and it took all my will not to thump this bastard, especially the following day when a run down piece of shit minibus picked us up for our 7 hour journey (he had promised a new van with high roof and lots of leg room, even showing a picture of the luxury vehicle), man was I pissed, luckily our driver couldn’t be bothered making the journey with so few people so ended up depositing us in someone else’s van, which was slightly better.

That is HAM BURGER TOURS in Vang Vieng, stay away!

THE UGLY

SO it wasn’t a great ending to VV, but these things happen, and now that I have had a bit of a rant, I feel better, and after the next rant, I hope to feel better still. I have been thinking a lot about the touristy thing. You often hear people talking about how tourism ruins these areas, in fact I talk about it occasionally. I have however mostly thought of it as the tourists being the problem. After VV and some time in Luang Prabang, I am leaning more towards it being the locals who are the problem, at least the locals who want to participate in tourism.

Fact is, if you didn’t cater towards certain types of tourism, those people wouldn’t come, and you could make your tourism industry into what you want it to be. As for telling me how poor you are, well yes, by western standards you probably are, but then why are you sitting in a restaurant for westerners doing fuck all and acting like my presence offends you. If you don’t like it here, go back to the fields and villages that seem to supply an abundance of food and housing, buy a motorbike and live the traditional life still available to you.

In the west I no longer have that option, if I was still working and living in the west, I would have to work and kiss arse day and night to have the life I do, you have the choice to continue to do so, or not. People keep telling me how poor people are in Laos, I don’t see it. Again, by western standards maybe, but then don’t live by western standards. I see fewer hobbos in Laos than I did in any Australian city, I also see fewer people working than I have in any western city.

Maybe I am ignorant of the facts, I don’t know for sure, what I do know is what I see, and so far in Laos, that has been a lot of money hungry, chip on their shoulder, poor me rip off merchants. Life can be hard, people everywhere have difficult times at some point, go plant some rice and deal with it.

Anyone reading this may be thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, you’re traveling the world, having a great time”, My reply to that would be that yes life’s good now, but even I have had my share of hard times, no one gave me a hand out, I made my life what it is today, and rather than expecting people to do it for me, I got myself to where I am today. Very few people in the world don’t have the option to change their lot in life (obviously this doesn’t hold in the more extreme situations, certain dictatorships and the like). But thinking the world owes you is not the way to do it. All humans have the right to liberty, the only other right we have is to do whatever it takes to improve your lot in life, we aren’t owed anything, you are born into a situation, the outcome is what you are willing to make of it.

If a taxi driver in Australia tried to rip you off, you would be livvid. If someone moaned that their life was hard, but hadn’t bothered to try and change it, you wouldn’t have sympathy. Move that over to a less developed part of the world and suddenly it is excusable, I say bollocks to that. Put the effort in, stop bitching about how hard your life is, and lets see what happens then.

easy life Laos

Hard Life?

Still easy Laos

Also a hard life

In Cambodia the people were just as “poor” and yet somehow still managed to be civil, if you smiled at someone in Cambodia and said hello, you got the same back. Maybe I shouldn’t lump a whole country into the same basket, but so far 90% of the locals I have met, have had the same attitude. I also realize that I don’t have an automatic right to civility or decency, but it would be nice.

So anyway, Laos, it has a lot of dirt, some really nice scenery, the occasional friendly person, a lot of whiney little bitches and mostly shit food ( I haven’t even mentioned the gizzard kebabs we got off some locals). It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s  just that I like other places in Asia a lot more.

Grumpy Laos

Most common facial expression in Laos

Rant over

So now we are in Luang Prabang, Laos, so far the people are the same, the food is the same, but the room we have is good (after leaving our last because of, you guessed it, bed bugs). I am quite content here for the moment, Sarah and I are both over the whole sight seeing thing for now, so aside from walking around the very picturesque little town, we havent really bothered going to more waterfalls and caves. Bring on Chiang Mai!

The idea is to grab a slow boat up the river (2 days) until we hit a little border town (I forget the name), crossover and jump on a bus to Chiang Mai. Once there we will find a nice apartment and settle down for a month or 2. In that time we both plan on doing the things we always wanted to, but never had time for in Perth. I want to learn the guitar, create some art, exercise, and if my courage holds out, take Muay Thai lessons.

And in case you were wondering, I am having a good time, but life and it’s little issues don’t stop when you leave, they just become less serious and more manageable, because they are topped off with some really cool shit!

14 Comments
  • Helen
    Posted at 12:47h, 05 April Reply

    Its really horrible when a few individuals spoil your whole perception of a country isn’t it?
    We loved Laos and didn’t see anything like you describe, but then we were on a organised tour so it was probably them who were ripping us off.
    But I do know exactly what you mean, we had a horrible experience in Peru, we just felt like everyone wanted a piece of our tourist cash and they would have probably sold their own grandmother to get it. It gave me a really bad impression of the country.

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 15:15h, 05 April Reply

      Most people I’ve met seem to love Laos but I think we just got unlucky. Its a shame how like you say just a few people can almost ruin an entire country. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • lawrence adams
    Posted at 02:21h, 06 April Reply

    We’re currently in Laos and myself and my partner both totally agree with this article,the locals seem to want to rip you off left right and center.I would give Laos a miss and stay in Thailand.I’ve only seen one smile since i got here but we think they must of had wind.Nice article Tyrhone will look at some of your other work.

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 04:19h, 06 April Reply

      Ha on the wind thing, glad to hear it wasn’t just me being a grumpy bastard. Laos definitely has a beautiful landscape but what’s the point when your hands are constantly in your pockets right. We couldn’t wait to get to Thailand after Laos, and it was such a relief. Better food and friendlier people.

      I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip, maybe have a look at Chiang Mai, it was so comfortable after Laos.

      Thanks for reading Lawrence

  • Paige
    Posted at 17:29h, 06 August Reply

    Hi there, this made me laugh! I felt the same about being ripped off in sri lanka. I had this dude who, btw, worked in a hotel where weddings were famous for, drove a ‘luxury’ car an was on the chubby side (obviously doing alright) an when I tipped him he said ‘no dollars or pounds’ the gesture was totally lost on him an I felt like he was totally ungrateful.p

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 14:42h, 07 August Reply

      Getting ripped off just makes you feel nasty, it doesn’t even really matter how much for. Such is the lot of travelers though it seems…
      Tyrhone recently posted…Road trip tester 1, epic non-successMy Profile

  • Banana
    Posted at 15:18h, 22 August Reply

    Totally understand. They don’t understand the concept of tourism or travelers. For most of them, we are walking ATM’s. They don’t see us working hard and living cheap to be able to afford a trip in their country. They only see us buying useless souvenirs, food and booze. They think we do th same back home.
    I’m in Laos right now, traveled for the last 3 months in thailande, Cambodia and Vietnam. I can say that we got ripped off in every single country. I wouldn’t say Laos is the worst. We’ve met friendly people and we get smiles back. We are trying to fo things by ourself instead of tours… less chance to be rippe off and be disappointed. But so far so good for Laos! We enjoyed Luang Pranang and phonsavanh and people were nice. Maybe because we are in the low season…
    Anyway… I am heading to that lagoon tomorrow and hopefully it will be as amazing as you described !
    Thanks for the post !

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 20:43h, 22 August Reply

      Cool, despite what my rant may suggest I am always happy to hear when someone else has a better time of it than I did. And your right you do get ripped off everywhere, it was just worse for us in Laos. The longer I travel the more I realize how different an experience can be for different people. Enjoy the lagoon and have a swing for me from the tree 🙂

  • matt
    Posted at 22:32h, 05 March Reply

    I am currently in Laos, I agree

  • Gareth
    Posted at 07:17h, 03 December Reply

    Day 2 in Laos and I have been ripped off several times already. The people seem grumpy and everything you say above I totally agree with. I am hoping when we get to vv things might get better. Such a shame because Thailand was awesome with lovely people. We did not feel that we had to be on guard all the time…..such is travelling I guess. It’s a real shame.

  • yuyazz
    Posted at 09:47h, 28 January Reply

    what you must also understand is that each culture has its own behaviour, way of thinking..for some, thailand would be worst, some others, cambodia, for others like you laos..in fact as a tourist, you meet almost people who live with tourism money (restaurant, hotels, tours etc)….as more and more “older travellers” are ready to pay anything without thinking, the prices are growing everywhere in south asia, year after year…since 1999 in thailand where i went the first time, the price of the same guest house was multiplied by 7..in malaysia, in 3 years,the prices of guest houses in Kuala lumpur cost the double..everything is changing..you must understand, you , english or american people that you are the only people in the world who can leave your home and your country, whithout thinking the issue of language..everybody on earth has to speak your language..everybody on earth, arabic countries, asians countries, south american countries were one day or another victims of your domination…also, being in vang vieng, i must say you something that ALL foreigners think about you, english people, your are the worst travellers in the world, always talking too much and too loudly…everywhere i was in asia, i wa surprised by your behaviour, as if you were alone in the world…always making noise, irrespectful for your neighbours…english women and russians too are the only women in the world who always wear bikinis, in places where local people are dressed..even in muslim and asian island like in thailand or Malaysia..it’s your culture, but it disturb every other nations..you don’t even realize it, and it’s a pity..you must learn and respect other’s culture, beahviour, and shut up when you enter in a silent place..most of english people don’t care about the others…you talk to people without saying “hello” or “excuse me” or “thank you”…so don’t be surprise if you have bad experience all over the world…poor people will always try to get your money, it’s a fact, but especially if you are english or american..you see???
    i’m in laos, vang vieng, and my problem is not laos people, but english who really behave like fucking child;..shouting, completly drunk in the street, making noise in guest houses…so you know what…just fuk you and stard thinking with your fucking little brain….and respect other people if you want to be respected…

    • booth_1@hotmail.com
      Posted at 10:14h, 28 January Reply

      Harsh but you make some good points, you also make a lot of angry and unnecessary points which seem more about anger than truths. I believe I am very considerate and don’t make most of the faux pas you mention in your comment. But when I think about it that probably means that although I had a bad experience in Laos and most of the people I met were not friendly, it probably also means that there are an equal amount of people who are nice, I just didn’t meet any unfortuantely.

  • yuyazz
    Posted at 13:27h, 28 January Reply

    yeah, you’re right it’is hanger and i apologize for my words..i undestand you because mos of people who come in asia think and feel the same : always money money…everywhere the same..in india, thailand, cambodia, south amercia, arabic countries like maroc also…sometimes you can meet young children , even not 10, who says: “hello….money??” it is embarassing, we all feel that it is an injustice to pay more because we are foreigners, to pay for everything…some of them are even richer than us!!i don’t have a guest house, i don’t have a car, even my own house..and they have those things but you have to pay more anyway.
    In burma, as the country is not yet used to mass tourism, things look different.we pay the same price than local people most of the time, myanmar people are kind with the travellers…and that proves that tourism change people mentality..it’s a pity but it’s our fault too..when you say that if tourism in vang vieng looks like that it’s their fault, it’s true and it is not, i think..we are not obliged, even drunk or stoned, to be unpolite, irrespectful, and to walk naked in the street..we can be well educated, and have fun., we don’t need to speak so loudly…you see what i mean?all the guides and past travellers criticize the behaviour of australian and english people of vang vieng, of stupid people who died because completly stone and stupid…why only english and australian??nowadays, there are also many many corean people….do you think they ‘re gonna become like those guys??certainly not…it’s not racism against english people, it’s a matter of culture…education and respect..laos people has suffered a lot we all know that, from war…laos people are a bit stupid you know, they built a huge monument in vientiane with the help of amercian and they are proud of that monument…it’s as if the “arc de triomphe” in france was built with the help of nazis, and french people would be proud of it..!!! .but is it really stupidity???do they have the strenght or something we don’t have, that let them forgive the horror??maybe if we were living here we would understand the local mentality..my father who came here in the 70 s told me that laos people were the most kind in the world ( he travelled around almost 100 countries)i don’t think he was lying…the thing is that history and tourism change people.Asia has changed a lot during the past decades…it’s a pity..in a way, i’ agree with you, and it’s true for all poor countries in general, but we cannot juge,… things will change as they have always change..don’t you think so?
    thanks.
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