Lonely Planet: An ‘Unhappy Ending’ in Southern Laos.
Above Photo: “What does it say in the book about used condoms?” Me in Sekong, Laos.
Like many, I swear by the Lonely Planet Guides, and take them wherever I go in the world, probably because I grew up travelling with them. Even in an age of WiFi, Smartphones and Trip Advisor, none of which can be much use in more out-of-the-way places, I still lug a Lonely Planet guide with me.
The Lonely Planet Guide to Laos is actually relevant to the plot of my novel, BACK, when a group of backpackers head into the jungles of Laos on a trek to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, armed with the Guide and little else.
On my last trip around Laos I actually emailed the company with some comments about Attapeu, in southern Laos, where my backpackers set off for their dangerous trek, because the Guide seemed hopelessly out of date.
I also commented on a few unpleasant incidents in Sekong, where we stayed in a hotel that we had also stayed in a couple of years ago, when it was excellent. On our last visit however, we discovered it had been turned into a seedy Vietnamese-run whorehouse, which was offering massage services. When we moved our bed out from the wall to access a plug socket, I discovered an enormous, disgusting stack of used condoms and condom wrappers down the side.
It wasn’t a pretty sight (much like the room-hopping masseuses), and it served as a distinctly unhappy ending to our time in Sekong.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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