Simply Laos

The overlooked gem of Southeast Asia. We always knew we wanted to go to Laos but for no specific reason. There are Khmer temples but not as wonderful as in Cambodia. There are a few scars left by war but not like in Vietnam. There are no beaches at all so I won't even compare it to Thailand. As far as I could see there was nothing special about it. How come everybody I knew highly recommended it?! Well, like I was told so many times, you have to go there and experience it for yourself. So that's what we did and it was wonderful.

It all started with a pleasant quick flight from Hanoi, Vietnam, to Luang Prabang. We arrived in our guest house at night and went hunting for dinner at the night market. We choose the first Lao restaurant and ordered some typical food and veggies. What a great surprise!
Clockwise from the top: chicken salad, steamed veggie & spring rolls.

The food was delicious, different but not weird. Easy to savour, full of original flavours and surprising combinations. To top it all, the Lao Beer is light and refreshing, just like back home. Even when its served with ice. Great start!

On the second day we did our own walking tour around town which is an UNESCO Heritage member. We visited many Buddhist temples and absorbed the city. It's quiet, gentle and inviting. The mighty Mekong on one side and the Nam Khan river running in a sharp angle at the other. Both meet at the base of a hill where you can climb to visit another temple complex - hilariously pronounced "Pussy Hill" - and gaze at the breath taking surroundings. And if it's dry season, pay a little fee to cross the artesanal Bamboo Bridge and walk in Nam Khan's bank.

Tipical scene over the bamboo bridge

We survived the Popular Street Alley Food Buffet

Walking is probably our favourite thing to do. We usually walk 6 to 7 km every day. Even when its noon and 40 degrees, which was the case. Sadly, March is the month to burn the fields to make way for the new crops.
Smokey and beautiful views

This means smoke, a lot of it.
Covering the whole sky, burning your eyes and that bad smell. All that smoke really bothered me, like that jerk puffing his nasty cigar at you while you have lunch. It didn't ruin it but it was not cool.

Luang Prabang is too nice to be ruined by smoke. There are a lot of interesting cafés and restaurants to try, like the super popular Utopia. Hard to find but absolutely original. Overlooking the Nam Khan river, you can eat on low tables, chilling on the cushions, listening to rock and pop classics. Or you can have drinks and play beach volleyball. Or just sit on the totally open deck on the hill side contemplating the night sky and the river. A truly great experience.

Staying in town is cool but its even cooler to explore its surroundings. We went for a 2 days 1 night combo expedition: truck, speed boat, jungle trekking, hut lodging, elephant riding and kayaking. What an incredible experience! We went together with a young American couple and a local guide. We got friends really fast and talked at length about life on the road. There's always a new amazing story to hear from travellers. The expedition was exhausting but we enjoyed every minute.
Baby monkey pet of a village

How many Water Buffalos can you spot?

First time cooking since our trip started!

Double date dinner without electricity

The trekkers and the smoke


They don't have alternatives so they start early

There was only one uncool thing. My phone got soaked with water inside a waterproof bag while we were kayaking. How ironic isn't it?! All due to a bottle with a crappy cap. I let my phone rest in rice for 3 days and it finally turned on but it's not the same as before. The front camera, compass, SIM card all stopped working. And the battery barely lasts a day now. So basically I have an old small tablet. I'm still figuring out what to do with it.

We did a few more things in Laos but I'm going to let Di talk about them. It was a short stay in Laos, in only one city. Does Laos has more to offer? Absolutely! Was it enough? Definitely. We had our blast and incredible memories were made. Everything worked out as planned. What else could we ask for?
I even "drove" an elephant!

Our timing in Laos was perfect specially considering our next destination but I'll tell more about it on my next post.