Laos. It's the quietest, most remote place in Asia.
My days have been filled with hammocks, boatrides, lazy lunches, new friends, and treks through the jungles witnessing a place where children really are just children. That's the most beautiful thing in this country- the innocence of the children as they're swimming in the river, giggling at and mimicking foreigners, playing games with rubberbands. It reminds me of my years in Minnesota, riding bikes and building forts in the gully behind our house, stomping in the mud for entire afternoons, collecting worms off the driveway for fishing (which we never got around to using).
This is a special country. Life is slow. The last town I was in only had power for two hours each night and power outages are a regular occurance even in the more developed towns. So you sleep early and hard in the pitch black.
On my first bus ride yesterday, I counted 19 people in the first five seats (including the driver). I was snuggled in between a thin Lao man at the window on my left and a 10 year old and 15 year old girl on my right sitting on cement bags, holding onto my knee so they wouldn't slip off. Instead of feeling like my personal space was being infringed upon, I felt like I was in the middle of things and with my fellow human beings. It didn't matter that I was a big blonde girl.
Louang Namtha is my current residence- it's in the north by the minority villages and the mountains, and much cooler than the southern parts of Laos. I'll be here a couple days, then next to Muang Sing, which is near the Chinese border and finally returning to Thailand. I fly to Auckland March 16th.