After our crazy bus ride from Hanoi into Laos, we were relieved to arrive at a place that was the polar opposite of north Vietnam: quiet, relaxed, and way off the grid. It was perfect!
Landing at a place to sleep was no problem. There's basically nothing online, so we just hoped that we could find something. Turns out the hostel found us.
While using the ATM that was right near the bus stop, a man approached us with a big, genuine smile. He greeted us and asked if we needed a place to stay. We said we needed a minute and he shrugged and stepped back... a refreshing change from Vietnam!
After getting our money we agreed we should check it out, so we went over to him and said we wanted to see the place. He smiled again and said to follow him, and started slowly walking us over a large suspension bridge to his hostel.
We quickly checked in and he told us there was a family dinner at 6pm every night. "We eat da bamboo, da vegetables, da rice, and da WHISKEY" — it was delicious! The whole hostel gathered for dinner and we had a great time meeting everyone. The whiskey was actually rice
wine, and every time we drank we said "lao-Lao!"
As if that weren't enough, we wandered next door and sang Lao karaoke with a few locals for over an hour. Their videos had latin-character phoenetic subtitles so that we could sing along with them despite not knowing a word of the language. It was a riot and we could see that we really made their night by giving it an honest try. Unforgettable night!
It turns out the greeting in Laos is "sabaidee" — strikingly similar to our favorite mantra we learned in Pai: "sabai, sabai." It means something different in Laos but from the moment we first arrived we knew we would love it here.
Back to slow days and good friends. Sabaidee from Laos!