The Lao Experience
After sorting out a visa in Bangers, a friend and I caught the overnight train up to Nong Khai, and crossed the friendship bridge into Laos, and caught a pickup into Vientiane. If you’ve never been to Vientiane, try to imagine what Bangers must have been like about 30 to 40 years ago. Quaint, peaceful, and relaxed, with oodles of French architecture left over from the colonial times.
We met an American guy and had a few “beer Lao’s” by the river before heading to what looked a bit like a disco; Lao style. Strange wasn’t the word for it! The disco had a stage with a live band, with a Lao girl screaming out a rendition of “One way ticket to the moon”. Very surreal. We were the only Farangs in there. Surrounding the stage, mostly sitting at tables were lots of young Laos girls, I say young, I mean about 18 upwards. It wasn’t long before the singer came over, a very good looking girl of about 25, dressed in boots and a short skirt, and proceeded to offer us the services of any of the girls in there. She was the mamasan. She quoted us an unbelievable price of 45,000 kip (about B220) for three girls inclusive. Well, I go by the rule that if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is! B220 for three girls, long time?? Surely not. Anyway the night was young, and we decided to check out a few more places in Vientiane, with the option to return later on.
Next stop, was a bar named the “Chess Club”. This was another almost surreal place, with some more farangs, and again a bevy of young Lao girls milling around. The music was semi Western, the drinks were a little more expensive, 10,000 kip (B50) for a large beer Lao. Let me tell you that beer Lao is the nicest beer I've tasted in South East Asia, and I must have tasted most of them by now. There was an older girl in the bar, I say older, she was probably late twenties or thereabouts. She was dressed quite sexily, in a short skirt, and a tight top. She was quite attractive but she looked a little hard and haggard, like she’d been on the game for a little bit too long. We chatted for a time, and she offered to come back to my room with me. Her name was “Moneyvan”. I said maybe later and continued to chat with my friends at the bar. In the middle of the table area there was some kind of party going on, evidently for one of the girls birthdays. I caught one of the girl’s eyes for just that little bit longer than necessary, and she returned the gaze with an equally long one. Same same as when you sit at a bar beer in Pattaya or somewhere like that. My mates had been doing the same with some of the other girls, and after a while we were invited to join the party for some food and beer, all paid for already by the party. It was strange, the girl who’s birthday it was, was called Di, pronounced as in princess Di. She was celebrating her 22nd birthday. We met and were introduced to her mother and younger brothers and sisters, and even had birthday cake. All this was happening in the middle of what was so obviously a pick up joint. Di, the girl who I was looking at earlier, started to get very cheeky, and when I went to take a leak, was waiting outside the toilet for me. We talked for a while, then she asked if I wasted to go to a disco with her, then… she reached round and pinched my bum, before standing on tiptoe and licking my nose! She was quite attractive, pretty face and quite a nice body, not too skinny, and she had a beautiful constant smile on her face. A couple more drinks in the Chess Club, and me and my two mates left, and on our mopeds, headed toward a disco, all with a girl on the back. On the way out, the other girl Moneyvan, started getting upset, and getting angry that I didn’t leave with her. Oops. I tried to calm her down, but one of the other girls pulled me to one side and told me that she's crazy. I'm sure she wasn’t crazy, I find that that’s how most Thai, and in this case Lao women tend to describe another girl that they don’t like too much. Poor lass, I felt sorry for her, but I had to leave.
The disco they took us to was the Novotel disco. Farangs didn’t have to pay to get in, or queue for that matter, so in we all went and partied for the remaining part of the evening. My friends had paired off with their respective girls, and I was with Di. We couldn’t go back to our guesthouse because the girls said it was government run (We didn’t know that at the time we checked in) because if we did the girls would have been arrested by the police. So, on the girl’s advice, we drove to another “friendly” guesthouse not far from ours.
Man oh man. Di certainly showed me one of the best times ever. I didn’t get a great deal of sleep that night (every time I fell asleep she would wake me up and make me have it again, sounds like paradise huh?) The funniest thing was, that at one point she looked me in the eye, and whilst gritting her teeth, started saying, “Die happy, die happy…in a slow crescendo that ended in a scream. I thought… Shit man, she wants me to die happy, what's she going to do? Is she trying to give me HIV or something? I guess you really had to be there, but after a few minutes I relaxed when I remembered that her name was Di, and she was just telling me she was very happy. Like I said, I guess you had to be there. In the morning, she became insistent that, that evening I was to go to her house where she wanted to show me some porn videos. This was at her family’s house with her parents and siblings there, all in two rooms no doubt! Nahhh thanks. This was one sex-crazed girl. The morning came and we checked out and met the American guy and his girl in the lobby, and all walked back to our guesthouse. I tactfully offered Di “Money for taxi” and offered her a $20 bill, which she refused saying that she had enough money. The American guy didn’t offer his girl any money, and she started making noises and communicated to Di that she wanted paying for spending the night with him. He was a bit naive and I explained to him the score, and he begrudgingly paid up $20. My other friend also paid nothing to his girl.
Looking back I must have been mad, but that night I blew Di out. I just went out for some food then back to the guesthouse to read. Why, I'm not sure now, but I think I was actually freaked out by this girl. She was just too hot, if there is such a thing. I can hear and see all you readers now, saying “You twat” and shaking your heads. My friends said they saw her, she was looking hot in an extra short skirt and she was upset that I wasn’t with them, and kept asking them to go and get me. Maybe I'll go back soon on the remotest of chances that she’ll still be there. I'm in South East Asia for a while.
Travelling south down to Champasak province, we noticed small discos like this almost everywhere. (I’ll add here, that when I was there in Sept 2000, travel by bus was a bit of a nightmare, so if you can't handle long, very uncomfortable, sweaty bus journeys, forget it, unless of course you fly. But even then, Lao Aviation isn’t well known for flying well-maintained aircraft, so sit near the exit or take a very large umbrella!) The discos are very strange places. All the girls will leave the dance floor and sit down after every record, and the dancing resembles a kind of South East Asian line dancing. Then the next record comes on and they all get up and dance again. Lao girls are very very friendly. I don’t think I ever travelled on a bus in Laos, without a young Lao girl, or young man for that matter making conversation with me. No, they're not all on the game, they are just very friendly, and maybe want to learn a little English, trying to make new friends. But that’s probably the same almost everywhere in South East Asia I've been, where it hasn’t been open to mass tourism. Laos has to be one of the favourite places I've been lucky enough to visit. It's so chilled out it's… well, just check it out sometime, it's definitely worth the B800 for the visa and the train journey north. A sex tourist destination? No way, don’t even think about it. That would spoil what is such a beautiful country.
So, Wannabe Expat said the guidebooks say that there's no prostitution in Laos. The guidebooks are wrong in a big way. I think that the bottom line is; almost wherever you are in the world, there is, and always will be prostitution of some degree. From my travel experience in Asia, Thailand is the metaphoric superpower of prostitution, with Cambodia not far behind in second place, gaining ground all the time. Cambodia? That’s another story. I'll save it for another time. But for all you expat’s living in LOS who want do go on a visa run with a difference, check out Phnom Penh. It has a rep for underage girls, I'm 100% against that kind of shit and peeps who partake in that sort of thing need locking up, but there's an infinite amount of opportunities, to find an Asian babe of legal age, if that’s your cup of tea.
I had my fair share of visa runs in Vientiane and am familiar with things in Vientiane, although I was a good boy, just looking and NOT shopping. The author is right in that Laos is not the place to go for sex, though like Thailand, it excels in so many other ways, that people thinking of sex only will miss out on so many other things. I agree that the people in Laos are even friendlier than the Thais, and I found them to be more genuine too. Thinking about it, they are probabyl about the nicest people I have ever met. Laos is a wonderful place, well worth a visit.