As soon as we crossed the border from China into Laos it became apparent that Lao moves to a different tune than its oversized neighbour to the north.
“Entering Laos might entail a change down in gear,” our friends in Dali warned, a day before departure.
“This is the part of the journey I’ve been looking forward to since day one,” Richie reminded me as we handed over our passports at the border. Even the security officials seemed happy to see us. We smiled and made our first attempt at the greeting, ‘sabaidee‘, which sounded softer and more childlike in our mouths than angular ‘ni hao’.
I hadn’t realised how uncomfortable the pace of development in China had made me until I entered Laos. Except for the presence of rubber plantations and new roads, sure signs that China’s influence in this region extends well beyond its border, Laos felt a world away. Continue reading