To be told

“Sai cos’è bello, qui? Guarda: noi camminiamo, lasciamo tutte quelle orme sulla sabbia, e loro restano lì, precise, ordinate. Ma domani, ti alzerai, guarderai questa grande spiaggia e non ci sarà più nulla, un’orma, un segno qualsiasi, niente. Il mare cancella, di notte. La marea nasconde. È come se non fosse mai passato nessuno. È come se noi non fossimo mai esistiti. Se c’è un luogo, al mondo, in cui puoi pensare di essere nulla, quel luogo è qui. Non è più terra, non è ancora mare. Non è vita falsa, non è vita vera. È tempo. Tempo che passa. E basta.”

Alessandro Baricco, Oceano Mare


Sometimes, crossing borders changes things quite miraculously – while Laos and Thailand share many things (such as the language coming from the same family), they couldn’t be more different: after a dusty 40-min-ride on a Songthiaw (an open bus with two long benches facing each other), we got to the Thanaleng train station, the one and only in Laos. To finally enter a train again after 5 months of staying in a country without train tracks was – amazing. Definitely my favourite means of transport (next to my own feet).The Thai night train to Bangkok felt like a luxury hotel, the cities we passed were huge and full of lights and life, reminding me of Western metropolises (only bigger). Somewhat it felt like Thailand was even more developed than many European countries, which was really confusing since it is Laos’ neighbour, one of the world’s least developed countries. But in Laos, they did not have a problem with stray dogs! (maybe the Vietnamese took care of that : ))

Our last trip up on our favourite hill with the best melancholic view on Phonsavan, slightly hungover after the big Goodbye party the night before. It was pleasantly windy that day, with the sound of the wind resembling the distant call of the ocean. Thailand, here we come!

Runway -not runaway- is the name of the newest local disco where we went the other night. Finally, we managed to go out with our colleages Dachang and Thoummy to celebrate, say too early goodbyes, and cheer about new jobs and things to come. On our way, we met Adam from England, a nice guy traveling Laos and other Asian countries. Crazy dance night!

‘Our’ new jackfruit tree by night

Next morning – nice view!

A little more than a week ago, we had to move out of our house in Phonsavan. Our dear colleage Andy had offered us to stay in his house for the remaining two weeks in Laos, so we gladly accepted his offer. Packing our stuff that we had gathered in the past months felt like taking the first step away from here – it’s been almost five months in Laos and seven months of being gone altogether (which now seems like such a short time to me!). Can’t wait to hit the road again.

The other day, I had to get out to get some fresh air and walked up a hill where I had been biking with Tabea at the beginning of our stay. A horde of cows was grazing on the top of the hill, their bells peacefully sounding through the air. I sat down to absorb the sounds and the atmosphere. Gee, I will miss this place!

On Sunday, we decided to actually have a Sunday – lay work down, pack our bags and take off. Our friend Yumiko had offered her work place’s motorbike for a little trip to Muang Khun, the old capital of Xieng Khouang province about 30 km away from Phonsavan. Not a long trip, but long enough considering the amount of people riding the small bike! Nevertheless, it was so much fun to see the beautiful landscapes passing by, the people waving and laughing about the three ‘falang’ on a motorbike, to climb the old stupas and have a sticky rice/ morning glory picnic by the river watching the water buffalos graze the fields. And visit a Lao friend on our way home to see him and the construction site of his new house. Sigh! Work-life-balance! Soul relaxiation! More!