I know I’m supposed to be happy that the jungle-clad, muddy trail that serves as a major road through Laos is being paved. It’s good for Laos citizens, and it will cut driving time between northern Thailand and southern China to less than a day. Plus, I totally condemned writer Denis D. Gray for lamenting the changes that mass tourism has brought to SE Asia.
But I’m not as excited as perhaps I should be. My experience riding along that windy, dirty orange road is one I recount often when I’m talking about my travels. Standing around pathetic green-twig fires and sleeping overnight in the jungle because the bus was stuck in the mud is the type of traveling authenticity you can’t cultivate or buy on a tour.
Is it selfish of me to wish that some roads could remain unpaved, and that some travel remains slow? Probably. But I guess I have to suck it up and be happy for people whose ways of living will arguable improve.