I feel as though I need to make a wee apology to my readers, as this blog has been spectacularly un-gay of late, particularly during my time in Laos. When I was in Bangkok at the beginning of the year, there was a sprawling and diverse gay scene for me to explore, but since then I have been gasping for bursts of gay air as and when I can.
There is a good reason why my posts in Laos have been about sunsets and swimming in the Mekong as opposed to downing Lao Lao shots in gay bars, and that’s because Laos is simply not very gay. Sure, I had a fun time in an empty gay bar in Vientiane (the capital city of Laos, bursting at the seams with a population of 200,000), but other than that – diddly squat.
Oh hai, empty gay bar of Vientiane.
That is not say that Laos doesn’t have a gay population – there are 6 million people living in this country, which is a little under the population of London, a place swarming with homos of all descriptions. I guess the gays are just spread out into the corners of the country, a more conservative attitude in Laos makes gay people less visible, and Laos’ lack of a night-time culture means that there are hardly bars and clubs for heteros, never mind a gay niche.
A wild night in Laos, watching the sunset on the river.
If you want a different gay party every night, Laos is not the destination for you. I’m indulging in a pretty long trip so I’m happy enough to spend some time in the land that gay culture forgot because I know that a big gay city will never be too far away on my backpacking trip. And in any case, one of the great benefits of travel is that it will open your eyes to different ways of living, enabling you to view the world from a different perspective.
At home in London, I don’t meet straight people (well straight men, at least) very often, so to be somewhere that forces me into the position of ‘only gay in the village’ is a real eye opener. It’s an odd thing for me to get my head around because while I love Laos (truly, I’ve had an incredible time here, and I can’t say enough nice things about the people) the fact of the matter is that now I’ve been here for six weeks, I am gagging to get smashed in a gay bar, wear the tiniest, tightest shorts without people looking at me like I’ve escaped from the asylum, take a massive snort of Poppers, and talk about the comparative merits of various drag queens all night long.
Elsa has the right idea (via realitytyvgifs.tumblr.com)
Something that I often read on travel blogs is how travel can help people to gain an awareness of things in their lives that are unimportant, and were unimportant all along, and were too swept up in the routine of their lives to realise. That’s 100% valid, but I have also found that my shift in perspective has made really appreciate some of the things that I took for granted at home and just cannot experience in a place like Laos.
I have a little over a week left in this incredible country, which I would encourage anyone to visit, but once I cross that border into Vietnam, you had better believe that I’ll be gaying it up like nobody has ever gayed it up in the history of GAYING IT UP.