Book Review: Enchanting Laos

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A country frozen in time, Laos is a worthwhile destination for travellers in search of meaningful travel experiences, and it’s particularly well-suited to those inclined towards photography. Editor Chad Merchant peers through an excellent addition to a well-received series of travel books, Enchanting Laos.

Few countries conjure up such a sense of mystery and intrigue in the traveller’s mind as mountainous, landlocked Laos. Regarded as Southeast Asia’s sleepy backwater for many years, Laos is only now becoming widely accessible. For many years, the communist government ensured that the country remained closed to the outside world,
but today, tourism is one of the country’s most important industries. And visitors will be astounded by the laid-back nature of life here. Unconcerned by neighbouring Thailand’s dash for modernity, Laos has resolutely moved at its own pace. When the door was finally eased open for travellers in the early ’90s, it revealed a beautiful country with a fascinating culture and an ethnically diverse population.

Today, Laos is well and truly awakening from its slumber. The capital, Vientiane, bustles with renewed energy, but many of Laos’ attractions lie beyond the capital, where the rural population still ekes out an existence as subsistence farmers, fishermen, market traders, and merchants.

For many in the countryside, little has changed, and that is part of Laos’ enduring appeal for visitors.

The attractiveness and appeal of Laos is captured beautifully in prose and photos in Enchanting Laos, one of a growing number of titles in the popular Enchanting series of books covering travel spots in the region. Travel writer and photographer Mick Shippen has put together a lovely compendium of images and experiences, perfect for the armchair traveller, but perhaps even better to motivate readers to leave the armchair and experience the marvels of Laos first-hand.

Something of a natural choice to author a book such as this, Mick Shippen is a freelance writer and photographer who has lived in Thailand since 1997, first in the northern city of Chiang Mai and currently in Bangkok. He travels extensively throughout Asia conducting research for articles and taking photographs for local and international publications. He is the author of The Traditional Ceramics of Southeast Asia, and a keen biker who spends his spare time motorcycling – he has toured extensively on- and off-road in northern Thailand and Laos.

Following the same format as the other Enchanting titles, including such popular destinations as Vietnam, Langkawi, Penang, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and many more, Enchanting Laos is an approachable and easy-to-handle size (10” x 8”) and 80 pages with full-colour photos throughout.

Enjoy the book, then enjoy the country. Like many travellers who have come before, you too will doubtlessly find yourself enchanted.

Enchanting Laos is published by John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd., Oxford UK, and is available in fine bookstores throughout Malaysia.


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Source: The Expat magazine October 2015

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