Where mass tourism arrives, the face of a country is destined to change forever. When I arrive in a place that apparently still owns some of its true soul, I have almost a thrill, a forbidden pleasure in thinking I might be seeing things that will disappear at any moment. Then I realized I could be the same individual bringing that change. Tourism has undoubtedly arrived also in Laos, but at a degree that apparently hasn’t already disfigured people’s attitudes and landscape, not if one avoids the nevralgic centers of the adventure’s or partying’s pilgrimage (yes crazy parties in Laos!).
Like some tourists enjoy untouched places, so do foreign investors with a country rich in raw materials and in a strategic position. The beautiful rainforests and the impressive river network is therefore being harmed by the irresponsible and deregulated chinese investments in infrastructure: a massive high-way where there are barely roads; a constellation of dams where most of the transportation of goods and people is by river; huge white SUVs in cities where there are only motorcycles and tuk-tuks; barefoot children and electricity as a rare commodity in villages where every family has a smartphone. Everything collides, everything still remains… suspended. What is to blame? What is to thank? Probably to a certain degree the characteristic approach of its people, peaceful indolence. In case of massive takeover by worldwide superpowers, better take a nap.