May 19. Lao mores.

We cross the border without any difficulties. The Chinese authorities stamp exit in my passport and we walk to the Lao side, a shack with a line of waiting tourists in front of it. I study the government poster of do’s and don’ts in Laos, learn about the status of the monks, the sad occurences of child prostitution and the absolute faux-pas of putting your feet higher than your head or anyone’s head. The poster has distracted me from the task at hand, and the officer calls me. A passport photo and 37 dollars please, and there is your sticker. I shuffle on and cash in some more official nods and smiles – I am in Lao DPR.
A short attempt to hitchhike and the quick realization that busfares are dirt cheap here. We get to Luang Namtha, where we contact our first cause in Lao from a nice coffee house.
The food they serve is too salty, but the hypertension somehow keeps us glued to our machines and dawn is setting in when we decide to spend one night in Luang Namtha first.

There are plenty of cheap guesthouses in this town, that seems to emulate the tourist paradise of Luang Prabang eight shaky bus-hours to the south. We pick one at random and enjoy too much luxury for too little again. Our prospect for tomorrow is good: we will finally be able to support a cause with our hands. I dream of that.

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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