“Hello, hello, I have a guesthouse, take a look.”
“Bungalow, good view.”
“I have hot shower, cold drink.”
A group of guesthouse owners are trying hard to get customers in their house as soon as the boat from Nong Kiew arrived. An hour of long boat ride made my butt sore, but we kept walking and found a reasonably priced guesthouse with a river view. And I wondered if our boat mates found a comfortable place to stay. Because surprisingly, a lot of them were about my parents’ age.
‘How did they end up here?’ I thought.
I mean, this is no Egypt, there’s no pyramid, and this is neither an Angkor Wat nor the Great wall. There’s even not many people would know where ‘Muang Noi’ is. And here they are, in their late 50s and 60s, in a random town in Laos with their backpacks.
Muang Ngoi is a small riverside village you can only reach by an hour boat ride from another small town Nong Kiew. There’s no road, no car, and no electricity. The reason we came here is because of these reasons I mentioned above; no car, no electricity, no civilization and hot shower means extra money.
Are you going go backpacking in your 60s?
I’ve never thought about what would I go travel when I’m old. For me, in my 20s, backpacking and budget travel is the way to go. I can trade a comfortable bed for a good meal, I can put myself in a 16hours bus ride, and travel with 15kg backpack. But, can I do that in 30 years?
We met a couple, in their late 50s I assume, in the bus on our way to Luang Namtha. They are traveling Southeast Asia for three months, and the places they’ve been are backpacker’s trail and they are traveling with their backpacks. That bus we were in was one of the hardest ride in Laos. There was no room, the road was bumpy and dusty and the seat was hard.
I admired them; their adventurous spirit, their patience and their curiosity. They are willing to give up comfort to explore the world and enjoy the little country town. They must have sacrifice a lot of comfort to travel up here. I couldn’t imagine take my parents to Muang Ngoi. They can’t handle it, I think. Small-wooden boat without a seat is not an easy ride even for me. Cold shower is not pleasant even in summer. The beds in most of the guesthouses are not the most comfortable ones. You need a headlamp to go to toilet at night. And really, there’s nothing much to do around here.
We grew up in a different era, them and I. What I’m doing is probably the things that they didn’t have a chance to do when they were my age. But still amazing they still want to be adventurous. Over the physical discomfort for traveling.
So I decided,
Keep myself healthy
Keep being curious
Enjoy this moment to the fullest so I won’t have any regret when I’m old
Be thankful for the opportunity I have
What kind of traveler are you going to be in 30 years? Have you ever thought about it?