Leaving Luang Prabang
It has been sort of unexpectedly hard to write about what life in Laos meant to me. I think, in part, because it changed me in a profound way that I was not expecting. A light bulb turned on. And that sounds really, really cliché. There is no way for me to write or talk about Laos without it sounding like every cheesy travel blog cliché ever. Like every quote that, while probably relevant, makes me absolutely cringe.
For the most part, Laos remains a place that is almost frozen in time. To me, its magic exists in it being this ethereal land of tradition and fruit shakes. No one cares what you’re wearing. That you’ve given up completely on make-up, because the humidity makes it impossible to stick to your face. That you haven’t conditioned your hair in a month or that your tongue is blue while you’re teaching because you had to stop on the way and try a blue raspberry shake. The only thing that impresses anyone in Laos is kindness. So you become more generous with your time and your heart, more compassionate to those around you, and more aware of the fragile human condition.
Laos changed me by allowing me the freedom of being the woman I was fighting to become. More aware of both the world I had such affection for traveling through and the best version of myself I was becoming.
Put simplest, I didn’t want to leave. People roll their eyes when I say I wanted to stay there forever, probably because (apart from Greece) I’ve said that about most anywhere I’ve gone. I’ve only ever meant it about New Zealand and Laos. Not even England makes that short list.
Dependable WIFI be damned and shocking as it may seem, I could so happily live in Laos without all the luxuries. I wanted fruit shakes on the hot walk home after teaching at Wat Mano. I wanted Will’s ridiculous dancing at Lao Lao Beer Garden. I wanted losing every time to the soccer team made up of ex-novices and Luke reminding me how lost the American political system is. That could be it and I wouldn’t need to go looking for anything else ever again. I honestly think the rest of my bucket list could have been written off had I been able to stay forever. I didn’t need to see Africa or visit India or Nepal or visit the remaining 2 continents. That’s only the second time in my life I’ve ever been able to say that. I’d clip my wings and stay right there, in the heat with the strange smells, having morning standoffs with the gecko in the shower.
I left. And it was sad, but it will not be the last time I’m in Laos. Of that, I am sure. I feel compelled to go back again almost every day. Just a day ago, I got a call from Luke and Leyla (both of them staff now) that made me all too tempted to buy a ticket and do it all over again.
Written by past volunteer Tara Tadlock
Taken from Tara’s personal blog: http://www.sillylittlekiwi.com/