Every Friday I’ll be writing a post with where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to that week, and include my favourite five photos.
After a day of recovering from one of Vang Vieng’s infamous Friday jungle parties, Jen and I took to the Nam Song in kayaks on Sunday with our friend Toby who is visiting for a two week holiday. The scenery was outstanding; towering mountains to one side and villages and fields to the other with local children bathing and playing as we paddled by. Half-way down we came across several party bars set up for the numerous tubers who drink their way down the river each day. After a gin or few, the kayaking got slightly out of control and mine ended up sinking, twice.
After delaying our departure from Vang Vieng by an extra day, we finally made our way north to Luang Prabang on Monday, with Toby still in tow. On the terrifying bus ride through and over the mountains, we were all rewarded with what I believe are the most beautiful views in Laos. Sadly I wasn’t able to take any photos to back this up.
Upon reaching Luang Prabang we had a decision to make – would we travel a further nine hours north to the trekking mecca of Luang Namtha, or stay put and trek in the area I’d previously visited? In the end we chose the latter, as it made sense time-wise and meant we could join a trekking group with some Swedish friends we’d made. I’d recommended using the same company that I’d trekked with last summer, so we actually ended up hiking the very same trail I’d already travelled.
Being a completely different season, and therefore very different weather conditions (hot and dry this time, instead of wet and humid), the hike was an entirely different experience for me. Instead of hills of green rice fitrekking, flowing, muddy rivers to cross I found acres of deserted farm land overgrown with colourful mountain flowers and grazing buffalo. Stopping in each of the Khmu and Hmong villages it was fascinating to see the same houses and families, only eight months later.
Arriving at the Khmu village for our overnight stay, exhausted after seven hours of trekking, I showed Jeni around the village of 85 families and took photos of things I’d missed the first time. After dark, a huge dinner was served and we spent the evening playing cards and drinking the local rice whisky (this was needed for a good nights sleep in the fairly comfortable, but very basic communal huts).
The second day started similar to last time – with a wake-up call I can only presume was the slaughtering of a pig outside our hut. After coffee and breakfast we said goodbye to our Khmu hosts and took a different route out of the village. Last year I kayaked back to Luang Prabang, so day two this time was a new trail for me also. A much flatter three hour strolls took us through two further village to the river where we boarded a local boat to the nearby Tad Sae waterfalls. These multi-tiered falls are best seen during wet season, but were still pretty spectacular for our visit. After an hour or two of relaxing and swimming, our boat took us back to the city before dark.
Today Jen and I are parting ways for a month – Jen is about to take a 24 hour bus across the border to Hanoi in Vietnam, and I am travelling west through Thailand and into Myanmar where I should arrive in the south on Monday evening.
Here are my favourite five for the week (okay I lied – this week there are six):