After a little over two months of traveling, I think we have hit our stride. Things seem to be getting easier. We are more courageous about street food, we confidently order local dishes in restaurants, and we are more decisive about activities and sightseeing. Plus packing and unpacking seems less onerous than before. Maybe I’ll make it six months after all!
Part of our more relaxed feeling has to do with the slower pace of life in Laos. Since we arrived a few days ago, we have been much more relaxed than we ever were in Vietnam. The people are friendlier, the salespeople (and taxi drivers) are much less aggressive, the cities are smaller, and it just seems nicer here. But apart from Laos, we seem to have exited our go-go-go Western vacation strategy and entered long-term-stay territory.
I think the relaxation began when we realized a few days ago that we would not make it everywhere we wanted to go. Reading that, you might think, But wouldn’t that make you more stressed, not less? In fact no. Understanding that you are not here merely to tick things off an arbitrary list, but to really savor the experience of traveling and seeing a different way of life, is incredibly freeing. I had told myself that a few weeks prior, but it didn’t really click until we got here. It took two months to really divorce ourselves from our sightseeing guilt.
We like Luang Prabang, so we have already decided to extend our stay here to get to know it a little better. We have also decided to stay in Laos as long as we still like it. There’s no reason to leave as long as we are having a good time. Plus, transportation takes so long over here as to necessitate multi-night stays for sanity’s sake.
Looking forward to the next three months, and to holding onto this feeling of freedom for as long as possible.