Beautifully Boring South East Asia
South East Asia is beautiful: I loved the mountain in Lao, along bay is stunning and the Islands in Thailand are nice and snorkeling there is amazing. The people are generally lovely, smiling and helpful. Hitch-hiking is working very well and even if it’s quite a pain as a vegetarian to see how they just eat everything, emptying their forest (when they don’t burn them) of any form of life, the food is good. Thanks to people hospitality, you can get easily an overview of the local culture.
Here is why I haven’t written on my blog about this part of my journey: Too nice, too easy to travel meant also no excitement, no feeling of adventure and at the end… nothing that I really feel writing about…
I didn’t enjoy as much as the other region this part of the trip as the excitement was missing. It was culturally interesting but no “wow” moments here. I even gave to myself some challenge, looking voluntarily for difficulties but it never worked out with the excitement I was hoping for: I just met more kindness and helping people. Too nice, isn’t it annoying? ;).
More seriously, the only thing really annoying in SE Asia is to see such a damaged nature. Deforested area are numerous, letting huge scars in the landscape. The trees don’t keep anymore the water in the ground and the village have less and less water but they don’t care… farming for tree years and waiting 30 years for the ground to be fertile again, they don’t care as there are many other space to burn and cut.
The forest was burning every night in the north of Thailand, destroying the ground and any form of life. The forest in Lao his so silent… no birds, no squirrel…just the sound of gunshot as they are hunting everything. If you thing that it’s ok because this system was maybe working for a long time, consider that today, the scale is different as they also produce for exportation and not only there needs and so, need more surface to cultivate. Furthermore, there are more people to feed as we live longer and the pressure on the nature is getting stronger. That’s the same problem everywhere and even when you teach people, show them real experience of sustainable farming, they don’t care. They just want immediate benefit. Don’t think that being greedy and materialist is only a westerner sin. It’s making me very pessimist about humanity finding a way to a sustainable living. The Nature herself is maybe taking care of limiting our impact on her by flushing us time to time.
The quest for excitement
You might think that I miss maybe the most interesting places but my point is that I’ve seen in one year so many beautiful landscape and monument that is now difficult for me to be impressed.
It seems that the difference which is making me enjoying a place or not, is more and more about the excitement I get from going there and how alive and happy I’ll feel if I succeed. It’s like climbing a mountain: The more it’s challenging, the more you feel happy, maybe happy to be alive once at the summit. Furthermore, your first 5000m summit will probably be more intense and exciting than the second one as it’s less challenging because you know that you can do it. That’s maybe about the same with travelling.
For example, north India by hitch-hiking was something not that easy : few cars, dangerous road, waiting for hours, walking at night, trying some shortcuts a bit steep, getting lost… but at the end, extremely exciting to do and rewarding when you finish the trip specially if the landscape was worth the trip (It was). So, it’s my new reference as a difficulties level and everything easier than that is probably going to be less exciting and rewarding. That’s might be why SE Asia is just the least exciting place ever as it’s just the easiest I’ve been to so far.
Looking for a relaxing place
So as everything was leading me to take some holiday, I gave up on the adventure.
Luckily, I was in Lao which is a great place for that. It’s unbelievably relaxing and slow and it was very contagious for my mind. I felt that, not busy anymore to think about my journey, he was all available to digest the information collected the last months (and only India is enough to keep it still busy). That’s why I felt finally to write again about India and then, stocks as I had lots of time to read about it.
To relax, I found in Lao THE place, so far my favorite in SE Asia: Muang ngoi Only accessible by boat, no motorcycle, no loud music, just a bungalow by the river with some beautiful limestone mountain in the background, some rice field and small villages close by and for a bit of fun, some caves to explore and swim in. Delicious food (amazing sticky rice cooked in coconut milk…) well, you get the picture. I stayed a week there and from that point, I was just looking for some other place like that.
The next one was in North Thailand. Five kilometer from Pai, there is an ecological farm named Tacomepai. It’s the project of Thai guy who’s a keen observer of the nature and manages to imitate it to get a sustainable production of fruits and vegetable (one can call this “Permaculture”). He built a bunch of bungalows in this forest and offer to the people to stay for a cheap price and work, if they want to for the farm, learning in the same time about permaculture, how to build a mud or bamboo house and so on.
My bamboo hut
In that place full of interesting and friendly people, I was feeling so good that I just forget about the time and realize one day that I was already there for 3 weeks and only 20 days left before my flight to Perth. As I’m writing this post, I’m on my way to Kuala Lumpur to take my flight.
At the end, SE Asia is boring for my best as it’s also the perfect place I needed to relax after these intense months of travel. It was the right moment on this journey to get ready and rested for what’s coming: Australia. Back to work !