My search to find a place better to live than beautiful Worthing goes on.
Let’s start with a poem
Worthing I miss you,
Let me count the ways how,
As I compare thee,
To the place they call Laos.
If you were in any doubt as to how to pronounce the name of where we are, that should help. I’m not that bothered though. If you prefer to go with
Worthing I miss you,
The elderly chaos,
Can it be beaten,
By the place they call Laos?
then be my guest.
We went to Vientiane and Luang Prabang in search of somewhere better to live than Worthing, but did we find it? Read on to find out…
1. Is the weather better than Brighton?
A lot of the time in Laos it was super hot, particularly right before the rains came. In Luang Prabang we left our hostel to go for dinner at a specific place, armed with a map to find it. We looked around for the place and just as we realised it must have shut down, the heavens opened and we dived into the nearest place (which turned out to be a major blessing – see 3. Local delicacies and quality of food) so the next day we left an hour earlier to beat the rain, but the rain had decided to come an hour earlier than the previous day, so we ended up jumping into the nearest place again. That turned out alright too as we bumped into a Kiwi fella from our hostel and had a nice couple of beers with him.
So in many ways the weather is better than in Brighton, but sometimes it lies in wait until you go out and then pisses down. Thing is, it might be doing you a favour as every time our plans changed, good things happened, so is the weather against us or is it a cosmic force of new experiences?
I don’t believe the weather was trying to do us any favours. I think rain wants you to get wet, not to stumble upon a great pizza place – 6 points
2. Proximity and quality of the seaside (a pier must be present for full points here)
Laos is land-locked, so at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to this category. However, it does have the mighty Mekong running through it which is pretty cool and means you can go for nice riverside strolls. Luang Prabang is actually surrounded by it, so sometimes it feels like you’re on an island.
So that’s nice, but sorry Laos you lose points for the lack of pier. Actually, you lose extra points for the lack of a jetty to get on boats from – we took a trip to see the Cave of a Thousand Buddhas which was pretty cool, but to get on the boat we had to clamber down the side of a hill, skate across slippery mud, jump onto a floating thing seemingly made of plastic urns connected with cable ties, pull the nearest boat towards us, hop across onto it and then jump onto our boat.
Get a jetty, then develop it into a pier and you’ll have a proper tourist attraction. Until then it’s – 6 points
3. Local delicacies and quality of food
Lap, laap and larp were all variations on the spelling of Laos’ signature dish (ooh get me – pronunciation and spelling both mentioned in one blog post!). However you spell it, laap is absolutely lush. Traditionally, it is made with raw mince but these days they cook it, which is nice. So it’s the mince of your choice (chicken, beef, pork or fish usually) fried with spices and herbs, served with rice. I know that doesn’t sound great, but it really, really is. I ate it all the time and was sorry when we left and I had to have the last laap (joke courtesy of Mrs Wife).
The best laap I had was on the riverfront in Vientiane. It was in a roadside place with no walls, under a sort of gazebo where the bloke cooked it in front of us while we tried to keep the dust from the road (on one side) and the building site (on the other) out of our eyes. It’s the sort of place you have to get used to eating at. The sort of place that would never be allowed at home. The sort of place that so often turns out the best food without giving you food poisoning, and this was exactly that. Lovely stuff.
The day we had to jump into the nearest place because of the rain (see above) was the day I got introduced to the phenomenon known only as ‘honey pancake’. Literally, a pancake with honey on it. Do not go to Laos without talking to me about where to get this delicacy.
Almost all the food we had here was great. The only really bad grub we got was in a backpacker type place where it was dirt cheap, because of the dirt. You know how they say that you can judge a place on the quality of it’s toilets? Well, the toilet here was in an underground dungeon, had no toilet seat and hadn’t ever seen the smallest squirt of Domestos. Wrong.
I could eat laap all day every day, unless it was in the toilet dungeon. Gorgeous stuff so good I can’t even take off points for the occasional bad meal when the majority were amazing – 10 points
Actually, you lose a point for this abomination
so it’s actually – 9 points
4. Friendliness and attractiveness of the locals
It’s a well documented fact that I don’t like over-friendly people. Friendly people I like. Unfriendly people I don’t like. Over-friendly people I don’t like, especially over-friendly shop assistants like Nigel from Homebase
and the same applies to people all over the world. Yes let’s say hello, of course let’s have a quick chat but then let me go about my business whilst you go about yours.
Our experience in Laos, I am happy to report, reflected my ideal level of friendliness. Not too much, not too little, just the right amount, and that was true pretty much everywhere we went. I really liked the Laotian attitude to life. While it could easily come off as “I can’t be arsed. I want to go back to sleep” I took it to be more “I’ll be as chatty with you as I need to be, but we’re not going to stay in touch so let’s not go over the top” which suited me just fine.
Laos locals have friendliness down to a fine art – 10 points
5. Availability and quality of real ale
Real ale was in desperately short supply but you could get beer pretty cheap. In fact, it’s what we concentrated our spending on.
The Beerlao was well nice and super cheap, which I like, but it’s definitely lager and not ale. I am really missing the Harveys now. And the Timothy Taylor. And all ales, bottled or canned, from England.
Did I mention my in-laws are coming out in a couple of weeks to visit? Two of them, each with a big suitcase. Must have loads of room in it for a couple of bottles you would think wouldn’t you? Have a word for me someone.
Anyway, back to the job in hand. No ale in Laos, but nice beer in cold glasses served with a smile occasionally in a garden bar. I’ll take that if I have to.
Another ale-free-zone, but your beer is nice so that’s a tasty – 8 points
So how Laos can you go? Based on this evidence it’s well worth a trip, but if you’re looking for a permanent residence then Worthing’s still got it as Laos scores 39 points. See the leaderboard to check how Laos ranks against Worthing and other nations.
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Thanks for reading.