Tuesday, 9 August 2005


The countdown is on till I touchdown in terminal 3 and crash headlong into the gritty reality of the polluted metropolis of London. The title of this entry 'Torn' is not quite exact. I can't say I'm exactly torn between here and London; it is an unfortunate necessity that I board the plane on Saturday. Dissertation and credit card bills being the main reasons for my return home but also the need, after 6 weeks, for a decent cup of coffee. Oh and of course to see the folks and my young man which go without saying.

So what's wrong with London? Well where do I start. Smiles. An extinct phenomenon in our dear capital. One journey on board our misery-infested tube system is enough, if you let it, to depress you for a week. In Laos people smile. They have nothing, but they are grateful for what little they have. People feed entire families on 25p a day and still they smile.

In London, people have everything and yet they constantly moan because everything is never quite enough. They moan when they haven't got the latest mobile phone; they sulk at their overflowing yet 'empty' wardrobes, muttering about their need to go shopping; if their job doesn't pay 40 grand they whinge. I'm not saying I'm any better, I do exactly the same when I'm in that environment. What a breath of fresh air though, to discover that there is more than one way to live. Where quality of life and happiness are not necessarily proportional to your monthly salary.

I'm also going to miss the accepting nature of Lao culture. You can be the queen of queens and no one bats an eyelid; homosexuality, at least for men, is totally acceptable. There are no looks, no sniggers, no beatings, nothing. Gay men are seen as equals. Although London is probably the most accepting area of England, it still has its share of prejudice and beating up gay men remains the sick past-time of some.

The same goes for religion. Everyone and anyone is accepted into their Buddhist culture. Anyone can sit in a temple and everyone can take part in Buddhist ceremonies. There are a lot of religions that could learn from these examples.

Somehow, in our progress from the developing to the developed world, we appear to have lost our acceptance for fellow humans. We have become narrow minded, prejudiced, competitive and greedy. There is a lot to be learned from our lesser developed neighbours.

I shall also miss the weather. My jumper has remained scrunched up at the bottom of my rucksack waiting for its inevitable emergence on my return home. I even enjoyed the frequent encounters I had with red mud. At least when it rains here it does a decent job of it. None of that hair-frizzing drizzle we get on a daily basis in the UK.

I wont miss witnessing horrific bike accidents.

Well enough of all that. It's back to the 4 quid tasteless sandwiches, the 5 quid glasses of wine, the ineloquent grunts of retail staff and the opportunity to rub shoulders with suicide bombers on the underground!

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