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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: 20.4605, 99.9673
I've made it a goal of mine to conduct myself as a traveler rather than a tourist this year away from home. I've tried to get to know people and learn about their days and lives rather than just seeing their sights and passing through. That's been at the forefront of my mind these months I've been in Asia and I'm getting better at it all the time. (Not so good in the beginning, but culture shock gets deadened when it's a daily experience for months on end. I can take things in stride now that would have scared or freaked me out a few months ago. I don't even run from spiders anymore =)
Then there are days like this one (which actually remind me how far I've come) when the best way to see something that is hard to see is to join a group tour and sit with a bunch of other pale foreigners wearing shorts and sun hats and carrying cameras. *sigh* So my tour through the golden triangle consisted of a van ride up, shuttling into a boat with a bunch of other foreigners, standing in lines with no local people in sight, and
shuttling home on schedule(!!) in the same van.
The two retired Malaysian couples that I shared the van with were really nice and always accepted my sincere apologies when I kept them waiting for me at every stop. They swooped through each sight and got right back into the comfy AC seats. I rushed for them and never got to spend the time I would have as a traveler today, so today I was just a tourist, snapping shots and seeing things as if through a window at a zoo...only seeing the surface of things, but not understanding the inside. I can't wait until tomorrow when I might have a spontaneous conversation through broken English and sign language with a random person who will teach me something new and different than the world I know.
So the boat ride took us across the river to see Myanmar, but we couldn't get out of the boat. (I went into Myanmar on my own, with my guide, later at the border crossing on foot.) Then the boat took us to Laos (where we could get out of the boat) into a very conveniently placed shopping village filled with Laotian knick knacks all layed
out on huge tables in wooden shacks for us to see. The village attache to the shopping huts wasn't more than a few more huts, lots of chickens running around, and kids playing in puddles in the mud. I wandered away from the shops to try to play with the kids, but they were so calloused that when I didn't give them the money they all asked of me, they all ran off. So I've been to Laos, but I wouldn't say that I've seen it at all.
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