Anyone who has visited Laos has probably heard of (or at least experienced) the concept of Laos time. It’s a country where everyone and everything moves sooooooo s l o w l y. Wifi is always terrible if it even exists, restaurants are slow, and even airport security apparently takes 30 minute breaks while nobody can get through.
We took one bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, and though Google Maps said the journey should only take 2.5 hours, it ended up taking over 7. Our bus slowly inched down around at around 10 mph, as all 12 of us 20-something travelers looked around at each other commenting that we should take over the wheel… or at least the gas pedal.
Then there was the time we stopped by a restaurant that advertised free wifi. First of all, the wifi wasn’t even fast enough for me to post an update on Twitter (!!!) and second of all, it was 20 minutes before someone even came over to ask if we wanted to order food, plus an additional 25 minutes to cook it.
Finally, on my last day in Laos, I went to mail a package home, and it legitimately took 40 minutes… with NO line! I stood at the counter tapping my pen on the counter and getting antsy while the clerk took 5 minutes just to read and reread my destination and return address, another 10 minutes to enter everything into the computer, and then disappeared into the back for a good 10 minutes before returning to process my shipment.
It’s not that the Lao people are lazy. Not at all. It’s just a different culture. They love to sit back, relax, and enjoy life, and though the slowness of it all can be annoying to travelers who are eager to get things done, it’s not a bad lifestyle.
Coming from a Western country where everyone is constantly rushing to do as much as possible as quickly as possible, Laos is a nice place to unwind a bit. In the U.S., it seems that everyone is always stressing about getting through school with a variety of extracurricular activities, graduating university, and then moving up in the working world as soon as possible. If you’re not busy, you’re lazy, and a failure. Fast food is hugely popular because everyone is always on the run, and clearly there’s no time to sit down and savor every bite of a meal. Multitasking is even listed as a skill on my resume, because in the U.S., it’s a quality trait to be able to juggle concurrent projects and deal with a lot on your plate. But overall, the pace of our Western world is very frantic, and as a result, stressful.
In reality, life not a race. Getting there faster doesn’t necessarily mean better. Spending time in Laos proved that it’s quality over quantity, and that it’s possible (and more enjoyable) to get things done without hurrying. So sit back, relax, and embrace the concept of Laos time every once in awhile. It’ll do some good :)
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌