The sun sets on my first night in Laos. From the balcony of my hotel room, I smell the charcoal and meat cooking at the home below me. To my right, there’s a rooster crowing. The weather is warm and humid; the air is thick with smog. Nights are when this city comes alive. Food vendors, ex-pats, locals, and street vendors gather on every open sidewalk in the city. There is a night market along the Mekong River selling everything from toys to knock-off clothing and shoes. In a place where you don’t the language, it feels incredibly quiet despite all the excitement around you.