Our plan was to cross the border at Lao Bao just to leave shortly Vietnam, to get a stamp into our passport in order to travel again up towards the North of the country. We asked several people and also researched online the possibility to get an extension of our visas since 4 weeks already passed by. For Dom as a German citizen it would have been no problem, but for Emilie apparently as Belgian it was… Great, without any plan or glue what to do next, we were suddenly in Laos.
Off to Savanaketh
We decided to head first to Savanaketh, the economic capital in the centre of the country which was very close by to the border to Thailand. We still were not sure if we should get another visa for Vietnam or if we should follow a new unforeseen adventure in Laos. We should pick the later option and our travel through one of the poorest countries of Asia began. Since Emilies motorbike was not in the best condition anymore (the seat was hard as a rock and the wheel was not aligned) we decided to stay in the before mentioned town to fix the issues and to relax a bit in the “metropolitan city”.
The atmosphere was strange… not really a lot of people… a few street food vendors… and that was it basically. At least we checked ourselves in into a new hotel which made the stay very comfortable.
The Takek Loop
After we fixed the issues with the bike we were trying to eat as much as possible miles up North in order to do the famous Takek Loop. The weather was brilliant and we were enjoying the daily changing beautiful landscapes.
An Accident in Luang Prabang
After Takek we were heading to Vientiane and Luang Prabang respectively. Just arriving in Luang Prabang, Dom had unfortunately an accident while his rain coat got stuck in the chain of the bike. He heard his spine cracking three times before the coat took his breath away and he was falling just in front of Emilie.
“Luckily” Dom only had a back traumata and could not properly move or sleep for three weeks. However, the strong pain killers kept sending him regularly on a great trip 🙂 Reminder: You never want to go in a hospital in Laos!!!!!
We decided to take a “time-out” at a beautiful secluded hotel outside of Luang Prabang in the middle of nowhere, with swimming pool, sauna and delicious food. Before we got there our trip started in the best possible manner while Emilie was losing her backpack on the way, containing “only” her iPad, smart phone and North Face Jacket. Emilie was fighting the first days with her anger while Dom did with his back. After almost 2 weeks of recovering we continued our journey and traveled most of the time off-road while conditions were extremely bad. A 30 km ride took us sometimes 3 hours which made planning a fortune wheel.
We always tried to travel during day light since the nighttime was basically impossible to master. Huge pot holes everywhere, bad front light of the bikes and animals crossing without indications the road. However, this day time was running out and we were facing already the last sunshines of the day. Desperately we were looking for accommodations but without luck!
A guy on his motorbike must have seen our dilemma, approached us and surprisingly spoke English. Incidentally, he was heading to the same destination as we were planing with one small difference: his light was working perfectly fine. Like a perfect line we were following him tightly behind his wheels, trying to escape every pothole.
People started to light up fires along the roads to warm them up and smoke was laying in the air. The motorboy was not only leading us to our next hotel but was our true hero for the rest of our trip!!! We felt highly relieved after arriving in the next “hotel” even though mould was eating the whole walls of the building. We tried not to think too much about it, managed to wash our sweat off and went to bed early.
Beautiful Non Khiaw and the “100 waterfalls hike”
When arriving the next morning in Nong Khiaw, we should explore a beautiful small town directly at a river and surrounded by beautiful mountains and green jungle. This is where we also did a beautiful hike to the 100 waterfalls. In the morning it was a bit foggy which gave it a mystical touch while the afternoon revealed a crystal blue sky.
On our way we walked through a another small village and could convince ourselves of the simple life of local Lao families. Another hike lead us to one of the view points on top of a mountain which we wanted to reach just before sunset. The scenery was just mind blowing and we highly deserved the view after an intensively steep climb with extreme humidity.
A beautiful boat ride and a traditional hand craft market
The next day we were doing a river cruise down the river to check out the tiny but charming village of Muang Ngoi, where we visited a traditional hand craft market.
Before leaving Laos we stopped at Nam et National Park to experience a Night Safari in the middle of the jungle. Apparently, there are still 22 tigers living in the area who are protected by the government. Officials are working closely together with villagers trying to sustain the last living animals in the country.
Viangxai – the Underground City
Before we were crossing the border we did another day trip to the caves of Viangxai – the city of victory – where a whole government was acting from the underground during the “secret war”.
Laos still belongs to one of the untouched countries in Asia, making it a true adventurous way of traveling. People are still not used to tourists and remain mainly sceptical but a smile can easily break the ice.
We saw ourselves already crossing the border when we realised that Emilies visa was only valid the next day. Consequently, the border police did not let us cross and we had to stay for one night in between both countries. The next day we intended to leave early in the morning and were already on our motorbikes with engines switched on when one guard after the other were checking our passports.
Eating mainly sticky rice with egg for almost a month we were looking forward to experience again the huge variety of Vietnamese food. We were finally on our way to Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Ha Giang – The extreme North.