overall i haven’t had much of a problem getting around not speaking the language in hong kong or thailand, but here in laos things are tricky sometimes! lao and thai are very similar, and most lao people understand thai, which is good because i learned quite a bit of thai in the last few weeks. and often here, i’m mistaken for lao because a majority of the tourists i’ve met are french and very fair-skinned, so a lot of times locals start off speaking to me in lao and i have to tell them that i don’t understand. often though, i find myself mixing the two up, and sometimes i’m just at a loss without a phrasebook, or even sometimes with it!
as most people will tell you, a smile and trying out a few words will often elicit a friendly response in return, often in english, and if all else fails you can always try sign language. but this yesterday i found myself in a position where was so frustrated that i gave up! (and i HATE giving up!)