One of the many charms of South East Asia is its beauty of imperfection. For example, you enter a bar, or at least a place resembling that. At first sight, everything seems fine, until you look more into detail. As it turns out nothing is what it seems. To give an impression of what I am talking about: You are the only customer, and you order a beer. Multiple times this is followed by the question: One? Yes, of course, how many beers do you think I was going to order on my own? Let us classify this under language imperfection.
Unmistakable charm when things are not perfect
Or take a closer look at the decoration, every time you will notice something is wrong too. And without any doubt, this also applies to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The shade of a light bulb that has come loose or whatever. It is not hard to imagine that some people will get utterly annoyed by such things. But in my opinion, there is an unmistakable charm involved. You could summarize it as Willing, but not being able. Let us be honest to ourselves: Would you be happy in a world where everything falls into place? I guess that could become quite boring easily.
The girlfriend question
As I start talking to one of the bartenders, a guy of just twenty years old, it does not take him long before he poses the mandatory question on his part. Do I have a girlfriend? Quite soon in our little conversation, he confides that he fancies Western ladies. The best advice I could give on that was to stop wearing those ugly glasses. More success guaranteed I tell him while I wonder if he ever had a girlfriend before. We all have our dreams, haven’t we? An entertaining chat, or should I say an amusing one.
Booking a worn-out room
Earlier that day, after a long trip from Luang Prabang to the capital city of Laos, Vientiane, I was utterly exhausted. Unfortunately, the hotel of my choice was full, but I do not make too much out of that. It did not take too much effort to look around a bit more in the neighborhood. And soon I managed to find a room further down the street. I instantly booked for two nights, a worn-out room but with all facilities. The next encounter with imperfection, again, and it will not be the last.
Looking for a bar to have a couple of beers
After dinner in a posh restaurant, I stroll to the Mekong river, looking for a more cozy bar. That seems not so easy to find around here. While walking, I am repeatedly approached by tuk-tuk drivers asking me if I want a lady. Prostitution does not exist in Laos you know. Of course not. Anyway, it turns out that all of the girls who approach me on the streets are ladyboys. Whatever turns you on, I would say, but definitely not my cup of tea.
Freakshow in Vientiane
Eventually, I end up in a Tex-Mex bar-restaurant. Two Laotians perform famous folk and pop songs on amplified acoustic guitars, some songs are more successful and sound less out of tune than the others. As the evening progresses, the place turns into a freak show. A mama-san emerges with her company of Thai women, children actually. This does not alter the fact that some foreigners are trying to get in contact with them. Even the local old hippie makes his appearance with the Thai babes. None of them are successful in getting them to their hotel room though.