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Please help me plan a month in Cambodia and Laos

Please help me plan a month in Cambodia and Laos

Old Jan 27th, 2020, 10:54 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,779
Hmm ... there was a post by someone using the screenname "AdventuresofAlice"-- really! I wonder what happened to it....

. . .

@ Kathie:

I recently finished reading Kremmer's Stalking the Elephant Kings and thought I should share some reactions.

I loved the portrayals of Lao people. Kremmer has a remarkable talent for making individuals come to life with both their flaws and their charms. I don't know how well his now dated words will prepare me for my visit to Laos, but I know that I am glad to have read his compassionate and empathic descriptions of so many Lao people.

Even so, the book has left me with an ineffable and pervasive sense of sadness. I already knew most of the history he presented, at least in its broader outlines (if not the details), but -- for better or worse -- I had managed to distance myself from it. Kremmer's words have brought any number of painful considerations to the forefront, and he's done so with compelling poignancy. My admittedly cursory effort to bring myself up-to-date on Laotian history since he wrote the book has not alleviated my sadness.

A serious look at the complicated and controversial end to the Laotian royal era, and the shifting political and economic and cultural dynamics that surrounded and followed that transition, is not a bad thing, IMO, but it isn't something I can manage without feeling sad and helpless and frustrated (among other negative emotions). I could elaborate, but don't want to get bogged down in politics or personal reflections.

One other thought: I stand in awe of those of you who went to Laos some decades ago. It must have been a fascinating place to visit while still in the midst of so many transitions! Of course, I want to have my cake and eat it, too -- I want the benefits of roads and transportation options and enough tourism infrastructure to make for a reasonably easy journey to places that haven't been overrun by, uh, tourists -- like me.
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 11:25 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Another book you may want to consider is Dervla Murphy’s One Foot in Laos. An account of her solo bicycle trip through the country. A little bit "preachy" at time but a decent enough read, written a couple of years after our first visit to the country.
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 11:29 PM
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@ crellston: Recommendation noted - thanks!

P.S. Early in Kremmer's book, we are introduced to a Brit named Clive R. I soon concluded it couldn't be anyone I know (by any name), but it did give me a moment's pause!

Last edited by kja; Jan 27th, 2020 at 11:31 PM.
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Old Jan 28th, 2020, 11:29 AM
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Aja, I'm glad you enjoyed Kremmer's book as much as I did. It made me feel as if I knew (or should know) the people I encountered on the back streets of LP. Yes, the story of the end of the Laotian royal era is a sad story. A year or two after our trip, the crown prince of Laos visited Seattle to give a demonstration of traditional embroidery. Unfortunately, I was out of town at the time but a friend attended.

I hope you enjoy your time in LP as much as we did. And I know you will love the temples of Angkor. Have a wonderful trip!
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Old Jan 28th, 2020, 06:39 PM
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@ Kathie -- I am very excited to have the opportunity to travel to Luang Prabang and the temples of Angkor and other parts of Cambodia and Laos. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for the area!
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Old Feb 1st, 2020, 05:09 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Excited for your trip and if I ever get to this part of the world again (or when I get to this part of the world again), I will refer to this planning thread and what I know will be an informative trip report. I remain very grateful to this forum for helping me plan my trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. My sole reason for going to Cambodia was to see the temples of Angkor but Laos was not even on my itinerary at all. Forum members convinced me to cut a few days from Vietnam (We still discovered Ho Chi Minh, Ha Long Bay, Hanoi and Hoi An) and add Laos to my itinerary. And when I did my research and added it, they said no give more days to the country. I ended up with four nights which wasn’t enough but enough to make me discover and love LP and the surrounding areas and know that I will make it back one day. So grateful to the forum members who helped to shape my overall trip and make it that much more rewarding and enriching. And from the sound of it, you are getting some really good and sound advice. Happy planning! It’s a fun read.
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Old Feb 1st, 2020, 10:29 AM
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@ Lolazahra: I agree -- we are incredibly fortunate to benefit from the generosity of so many Fodorites who have gone before us! I think I noted on your trip report how clearly your delight in Siem Reap came through in your words, and then, when I decided to add Laos to my trip, I went back to your section on Luang Prabang, and again found words that rang with enthusiasm -- so I have already benefitted from your experiences and thank you for that.

I haven't booked my flights yet -- I'm a bit worried about how the coronovirus might affect my plans -- but I've begun making cancellable reservations for accommodations, and am very excited about all I will see and experience in this part of the world!
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