Hurry makes worry – backpacker travel advice

I once met a German in Thailand, settled into the life of a long term traveller, lingering in his hotel, in no rush to do anything. He declared that his goal for the day was to cut his toenails; he never got around to it. When asked why, he replied “hurry makes worry”.

Hurry makes worry. It seemed poor English, but fine advice. It applied to my thoughts on moving through Laos, a country with such a slow pace, it frustrated me constantly. It takes the patience of a street-performing human statue to travel through Laos. The slow boat from Pak Beng at the Thai-Laos border to Luang Prabang was, as promised, slow.

Tourist laden, fifty meters long, and with an ear-splitting truck engine thundering away just metres behind my ear, it chugged meticulously down the caramel brown Mekong river for two days. If you’re told the boat leaves at 9, be prepared for a 10:30 departure. Patience in Laos. The distance between Luang Prabang and Phonsavan looked negligent on the map, but a slithering serpent of a road connected the two cities, coiling and hairpinning along the shoulder of rolling green mountains.

The driver was in a hurry. The minivan’s bald tyres screeched in protest and my stomach lurched like it had been lassoed and tightened. Nevertheless, the ride took the entire day. The buses leave hours after the scheduled time and the Internet connections are glacial. Just gotta be patient or you’ll stress out too much.

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