It’s been over a year since I have written a blog post. I never posted all my pictures of Laos or wrote my love letter to Vietnam. But I returned back to NYC, taught a lot, laughed a lot, and met some new people.
Vang Vieng was what I wanted my Laos experience to be- chill vibes and beautiful scenery. I liked it so much I ended up extending a night. I could have easily spent more time there and been happy.
I stayed at the Keosimoon Guesthouse. It was aways from the main strip but is what I prefer. I got a cute little bungalow with my own bathroom for a good deal and they gave me coffee and bananas in the morning. I got to drink my coffee to the photo above. Talk about a dream view!
I booked a half day tour for a good deal. I got to do a lot- tubing down a dark cave, eat some decent food, kayak on the river, see people zipline, and go to Blue Lagoon.
There is a popular TV show in Korea that takes places in Laos so there is a ton of Korean tourists thre. I have decided they are my favorite tourist. I made friends with a bunch of them in my tour group.
The photo above was the view for zip lining. I have a fear of heights and didn’t do it but it was super entertaining to watch. My Korean friends did it while holding their GoPros on a selfie stick which was a hilarious sight to see.
At Blue Lagoon I managed to jump of the tree thanks to the support of my new Korean family and friends. They even recorded a video for me!
The great thing about this tour to me was that is was relaxed. I had down time to just sip some Coke and take in everything. I don’t like jam packed tours. It was a great and warm welcome to Vang Vieng.
The highlight of my time in Luang Prabang was the Kuang Si Waterfall. It was even more glorious for me as I was finally hydrated and strong enough to do something other than lie in a bed in a decent priced hotel room.
Getting to the waterfall is easy. You go to the main area of town and find a guy saying, “Waterfall? Waterfall.” They will bring you there for a good price.
On the way to the waterfall you pass by a black bear sanctuary. The bears are fun to look at and the people taking pictures of them are even better.
The waterfall had a nice mix of people- locals, tourists, and even some monks. It was much larger than I expected and even more beautiful than the pictures I saw.
I only had about two hours at the falls but it could have easily been a day trip- have lunch there, swim, and hike to the top. I decided to hike to the top because why not? Well, I am very out of shape but it was worth it. Absolutely breathtaking and peaceful.
If you are in Luang Prabang this waterfall is worth a trip. I think the pictures show you why.
I learned about Clay Studio Coffee in the Garden from a digital nomad I follow on Instagram. I saw a picture and knew I had to go there. I am pretty sure the food gave me food poisoning but I got these great pictures. Enjoy.
I went to this cave back in March and I still think about it. It really was incredible. I haven’t been to many caves but this is my number two. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so grand.
In China they put all these colorful lights in caves so it feels very artificial. This cave had none of that crap. You had a five feet tall Thai woman as your guide. She carried a gas lamp. With her limited English she would point. “Coffin.” “Popcorn.” You had to keep following her as she had the light.
At one point you go on a bamboo raft to get to the other side of the cave. Oh. And there also these ginormous fish that live in the water. The are really effin huge. And you can feed them. And there was a ton of bats above you too. It really felt like something out of a National Geographic magazine.
If you ever are in Pai I highly recommend a visit. It’s very much worth it.
I learned about Pai when a hostel in Pai liked a photo of mine on Instagram. It was a circus school hostel and decided I had to visit. From a quick Google search I learned it would be a perfect long weekend trip.
Like most things in Asia buying a bus ticket was easy and “getting there was half the journey.” I can’t remember if I didn’t know or read and didn’t care but the road to Pai is a twisty one. It is so grand that you can buy a shirt saying you survived all the curves. I get car sick pretty easy. I can’t even look at my phone in a taxi. This road was brutal- just insane curves. I got horrible motion sickness and thought I would be throwing up on the two monks besides me. Thankfully I made it to Pai barf free.
I started walking to the hostel. It wasn’t in the main part of town but I always prefer that. I kept walking. And then walked over a hill and still couldn’t find the place. I was exhuasted and decided to go to a place I passed along the way: Twin Hut Guesthouse. It was perfect and quiet. I got my own little hut with a view of a rice field and a hammock. It also included breakfast in the morning. It ended up being way cheaper than the other place so I was super happy to save some cash.
I walked around in the evening and decided my best option was to book a tour. I picked a place without much searching thinking they are all around the same price. They were impressed I spoke Mandarin so they gave me some food.
I woke up early the next day, got some banana pancakes with coffee, and was picked up on a motorbike.
The first stop was Sai Ngam Hot Spring. The water was warm and clear.
The next stop was Nam Lod Cave which was so incredible it will get its own post. Its my second cave I have visited so far (the first is in Laos). Just look at it!
Last we swam at a river as it was super hot and we wanted to cool off. There was some water buffaloes near by.
I am super happy I did this half day tour as it let me see the surrounding area. There was no way I would have been able to go any of these places on my own. And this company charged so very little. It was a great deal.
The next morning I took some pictures of the scenic landscape. I rode back on a bus to Chiang Mai but this time with motion sickness medicine. It was a much better ride.
Overall, I enjoyed my time in Pai. It was a super hippy town with lots of backpacker and tourist but once I got over about belong I just enjoyed my time there eating smoothies and relaxing
This was one of many temples I stumbled upon in Chiang Mai. This temple had a “kitschy” vibe. It also sold smoothies and you could pay for a foot massage. It made me wonder how these temples make money for upkeep and such. Anyways, here are some pictures of Wat Phakhao.
I am currently in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The last time I posted was a month ago in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In between I visited Pai, went to Laos for two weeks, and now have been in Hanoi for two weeks. The plan was to stay in Hanoi for a month but I am so happy here so I am extending my time.
Its been nice not blogging. I realized it was stressing me out. It’s a lot of work uploading pictures and writing post especially with crappy internet! I do want to post some of the highlights of the last month as they are just too beautiful not to share. They included of coarse another temple in Thailand, an incredible cave in Pai, and the beautiful scenery of Laos that is simply unreal.
So this post is to basically say I am alive and went to some amazing place and will eventually post about them. Or maybe I won’t. Who knows. I am trying to make my life less stressful and I realized not blogging helps. I still want to document my journey so I am working on finding the balance.
Its been over a month since I was in Luang Prabang. A month gives you enough distance to figure out some things. I didn’t like the city for a variety of reasons but then I got super sick so I was essentially forced to stay there. But my arrival was warm and exciting.
“I arrived in Laos after an hour plane ride and decided to spend my first night walking around at the night market. While there I saw a booth for an organization I hoped to volunteer with. I started chatting with that guy, mentioned I’m a theatre teacher to which he responded he does storytelling, it’s his night off but there’s a traditional Lao storytelling performance happening in fifteen minutes. I get on a tuk tuk and make it in time and saw great storytelling which taught me so much about Lao culture while drinking red wine.
After the performance I learn it was the same guy! Just five minutes after I left he learned the actor had an emergency so he filled in.”
One of the highlights of my time in Luang Prabang was a rice tour experience where I got to learn about the 12 step process of rice. It was out of my “backpacker budget” but total worth it. I learned a lot, had fun, and met a red water buffalo named Rudolph.
When I was finally hydrated and capable of walking again I went to the Kuang Si Waterall. It could easily be a day trip but I only had less than three hours. It was simply beautiful. I climbed to the top which was great adventure.
I think my major issue was the the tourist area and main area of town just felt rich and fake- Laos isn’t “rich.” I would past by a restaurant and see a bunch of white people with white hair eating at a restaurant and think, “I can’t afford to eat there.” That’s not Laos. I did volunteer which let me see a more local side of the city.
If you are planning to come to Laos, Luang Prabang is probably one of your stops. The waterfalls are worth it but other than that I don’t think its worth it. I don’t know if I will ever return as it will bring flashbacks of when I was sick- it was rough.