After Pai we set out on an adventure to arrange the trip to Laos ourselves. There’s lots of companies that advertise taking you all the way there, but it´s LOTS cheaper, I repeat LOTS cheaper to do it yourselves. Just get tickets as you go along. I took a minivan from Pai to Chiang Mai, then a public bus to Chiang Rai (because the bus to Chiang Khong was full). The next day a public bus to Chiang Khong and the short trip over the river. Presto. Made it to Laos!
I crossed the border with Laos and instead of going to south, like most, I went north.
Luang Nam Tha
In Luang Nam Tha there’s lots of trekking. It’s basicly the only reason people go there. A two day, one night trek. The treks get cheaper as the group is bigger, so seeing a group of five people walking into an office I kept that in mind. We ended up with a group of nine young people. The average age around town is a lot older than I’d seen before, but our group was 21-35, very nice!
The first day was easy, walking up, through rice paddies and feeling like you’re in the middle of the jungle. Unfortunately no monkeys spotted, but we did have a nice sticky rice and veggie lunch while everybody was still getting acquainted. We ended the day in a hill tribe village. All animals were on the loose and there were no fences to even keep them in the village. They knew they’d get food there so would come back at dinner time. In the morning there was suddenly a whole flock of cows in the middle of town!
After dinner (sticky rice and veggies), we had a campfire but everyone was really exhausted and as the village quieted down, we also went to bed. When we woke up, we had an otherworldly view on clouds in the valley below us, with just a few peaks of hills coming through. It was an amazing moment, sun coming up, moon going down. Wow!
People in our group had brought some little books and a football for the villager kids. In the morning we taught them how to use it, as they had never seen one before! They had a lot of fun with it in the end, though. But I also felt the pain of the first day… After weeks (months?) of doing nothing and the dairy farm starting to become a distant memory, this was hard work! The second day was a lot more trekking, walking up some steep hills and going down wasn’t any easier with slippery, muddy tracks and aching legs.
But, we lived to tell the tail and the whole group went out for dinner at night, after a nice how shower to reminisce the days. It was great doing something more active! Looking forward to doing some more of that, although… First a bus down! To…
Aaaaah Luang Prabang was great! Nice food, nice people, it’s a tourist-place, but it doesn’t feel like you’re just another tourist! Staying there for a few days definitely charged me to continue the trip again.
There was an amazing set of waterfalls, called Kuang Si Waterfall that we ended up climbing all the way up, which was cool. The scenery in Laos is unreal. So many mountains/hills and the Mekong nourishing it all into a green landscape.
I can’t say I did that much in Luang Prabang. Enjoyed the novelty of a real lounge bar, Utopia, which had a great atmostphere and was full every night. Enjoyed the food, especially at the night market where a buffet meal (excluding meat) only costs 10.000 kip (€1,-) and you can load up your plate. I loved it, and probably gained a few kilos!!
Next time I’ll tell you about the interesting trip to Phonsavanh and what happened after that, but now, off to dinner! Enjoy this picture of one uninvited guest I found in Luang Prabang… I’ll put all Laos pictures online in one go, next time!
PS: Guys! Super exciting news, another website published my article about trekking in Luang Nam Tha! You can read that one as well! (more pictures!) CLICK HERE