Writing the first entry of a new blog always feels special. Especially because this time, I am intending to try a couple of new things.
- I’d like to keep this blog for future adventures. 5years back, I started my first travel blog about Australia and I also blogged during my Erasmus semester in Norway, but so many highlights of other trips were never written down. I’d like to change that. So hopefully you’ll be able to read even more stories after Laos. Stay tuned!
- I will try to write in English more often. Often, not always, since there are just too many German words I appreciate. Like Fernweh. Or Ohrwurm. Or Megakrassbeeindruckendersternenhimmel (for real). Plus, despite my love for the English language, I’ll never be a native speaker.
Right now, I am sitting on the plane to Thailand. 7h to go and my butt is really sore and of course I have “scored” a middle seat. A middle seat in the middle row of a middle-sized Boeing to be even more precise. Bugger that. Chances are high that my cramped neck will soon beat the pain level of my sore ass. I doubt that I’ll be able to sleep much.
But hey, that is enough complaining for now. Let’s turn to all the upsides:
- I was able to pick out all the chicken chunks of my Curry and could remain Vegetarian for a little longer. Next time, I will remember to book the right meal in advance.
- I discovered that I have been flying with super cheap airlines like Easyjet for way too long now. Explains why I keep eyeing the stewards*esses suspicously when they offer me drinks, food and newspapers for free. Lufthansa and Thai Airways treat me like a Queen, hell yeah!
- And last but not least: I am on my way to Vientiane. The capital of Laos and my new home for the next three months. For those of you who I have failed to inform properly: Me and my tandem partner Bella got chosen by the (highly recommendable) ASA programme. We will volunteer for the DVV (Deutscher Volkshochschulverein) in Laos and are supposed to teach English to adult staff members as well as develope and assess teaching material. That is at least the brief description we received in advance… For me, it’s the first time in Southeast Asia and I am as curious as a 5year-old who’s opening a Christmas gift!
Let’s see. Quick brainstorming about Laos…
Lao P.D.R. stands for Lao People’s Democratic Republic so I should really stop to call it Laos (German habit)… Characteristic architecture, eating habits and some street names hint at the fact that Lao PDR is a former French colony. Apparently, it’s normal to have noodle soup next to crêpes, croissants and baguette on the cities‘ breakfast menus.
There are decent mountains up north, the highest peak is Phu Bia with a proud altitude of 2.850meters. You can all imagine what I will get up to on my days off… One of my German professors was almost jealous when I told him about my trip since the country offers one of the greatest biodiversity-densities on the planet. Lush jungle, fertile plains at the river Mekong as well as rough mountain habitats = a botanist’s paradise.
On the countryside, life is still pretty conservative and often ruled by poverty. People usually marry early. Lao people dress neatly, shoulders and thighs covered. This is of course even more important when visiting the temples. Monks (and Elders) are highly respected in society and touching a monk is a huge NONO for women – but seriously, I never understood why this would surprise some tourists. Touching strangers is a big nono for me anyways. Feet are considered „low body parts“ which means you should not point them into the direction of people when you sit down (of course this cannot be avoided entirely, for instance in a crammed Tuktuk). But whatever you do, never put your feet up on a table or enter somebody’s home wearing shoes. Very rude! You might also have to take off your shoes when entering a shop or office. Heads, on the contrary, are high ranking body parts. Consequently, you should not touch a person’s head – you have all seen the crazy, old Berlin ladies on the train patting random childrens’ heads… please, just don’t.
Frankly, I do not know too much about gender equality and the role of women in Lao society, but I am very curious to find out.
As you can see, it is not a lot I know. I have a lot more romantic clichés and prejudices crammed in my head, but I will try to challenge them. In addition, I’d like to emphasize that all those „key facts“ listed above are based on people’s stories and what I found on the Internet. So no guarantee. Whatever I am blogging here is my personal impression, not the cristalclear truth. Always feel free to object 😉
6h to go until landing.