cope vientiane

Finding my feet in Vientiane COPE Center

Fact: Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the whole world.

Between 1964 to 1973, the United States of America waged a secret war against Laos. They dropped 270 million cluster bombs in the span of 9 years, 80 million of which did not detonate. You might be wondering: why? What’s the reason behind this violence?

To answer that question, look at a world map and find Laos. It’s right there, below China and above Thailand. See how Laos shares a border with Vietnam? Vietnam, who was at war with the United States of America. Back then, the USA was running a CIA operation that planned on destroying North Vietnam’s supply routes along the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail, a way to stop the Viet Cong and to wipe out their resources.

Laos was left scarred. Not just the country, but its people too.

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travel journal

Why you should keep a travel journal

These days, writing on a travel journal seems more like a task than a keepsake. Lugging around a notebook takes precious space in your bag, while the act of writing takes effort.

You’re probably wondering, why even bother writing in this digital age? You can document everything on your camera or your mobile phone. There are vacation albums on Facebook, curated shots on Instagram, and quick captures on Snapchat. You’ll never miss a single moment when everything’s preserved in digital photos.

While I believe in the magic of photos, I also believe in the power of words. There’s something about taking the time to slow down and immortalizing the moment in another way. In writing, you’re not only documenting your experiences, you’re also processing them. And that’s one of the gifts of traveling that some traveling folks don’t really take advantage of – the sense of awe, the feeling of gratitude, the journey of self-discovery.

Here are a couple of more good reasons why keeping a travel journal is worth your while:

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what to eat in southeast asia

Around Southeast Asia in 10 Dishes

Eating is such a huge part of traveling for me, so I usually spend some time exploring the local cuisine. I’m not a daredevil when it comes to dining though, so don’t go expecting strange, exotic stuff. It’s mostly comforting meals that I still daydream about; dishes, food stalls and restaurants that I’d recommend in a heartbeat.

Check out some of the best meals I’ve had in Southeast Asia:

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a beginner's guide to hostels

A Beginner’s Guide to Hostels

Hostels have a notorious image: it’s cheap, but it’s also dirty and unsafe. You don’t have any privacy and you share space with complete strangers. It’s a breeding ground for disgusting uncouths, backpacking types who have no money to book proper accommodations.

If you nodded in agreement to every single point I’ve raised, now’s the time to hit the exit button. Because this post will not be a ranting session about some hostel, it’s actually a guide for newbie travelers going on their first hostel stay.

These tips are based on my experience, so you’re guaranteed that this isn’t some sponsored post. I won’t be gaining anything here, not even a smidge of discount. This is just me, one traveler to another. I’ve stayed in a lot of hostel properties within Southeast Asia in the past year, and while yes, I’ve stayed in some questionable digs, be assured that I will do my best to lead you far from them.

So. Here are some tips to guide you before you book your first hostel stay:

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