After 1 month and a half in Vietnam, it’s time to take the plane from Hanoi, direction Luang Prabang, Northern Laos, for our next stop. We bring you to discover a beautiful area, with sublime landscapes and generous people… Let’s go!
Unexpected experience in Luang Prabang
Upon landing in Luang Prabang, an incredible human adventure starts. To give you some elements of context, Mister kindly helped a Vietnamese Lady at Hanoi airport. While discussing with her, it comes out that Miss Lanh is the founder of an NGO which works in Lao and Vietnam to support fair trade and sustainable exploitation of forests and agricultural lands (a big deal in this part of the world!). She would like to launch a website and create a Facebook page to support its action. For her, it’s destiny a web developer and a freelance online marketing have been on her way.
Back to the landing. Once customs passed and our Lao sim card purchased, we meet her and a part of her team at the exit of the airport. We do not know yet, but this meeting will make us live 3 amazing days in Luang Prabang.
This is the first time we find ourselves in a business meeting in English, Vietnamese, Laotian, Tamul (the dialect of the province of Luang Prabang) and french (our local dialect). It’s just great and we had lost the habit! We are presented with the NGOs, and this is an opportunity for us to clarify the needs before saying how we could help them.
The discovery of Long Lan village
We’re going to Long Lan village, a 100% independent and eco-responsible village, located 30 km from Luang Prabang in the forest. It’s simple, they live on what nature gives them, without seeking to increase production volumes. We have the honor of meeting the head of the village, before discovering a coffee plantation and a forest of herbs of all kinds (edible, medicinal, etc.). It is this village that Miss Lanh, the founder, wants to promote and publicize on the web and social networks. Indeed, the latter has just received the Rainforest label for its commitment in fair trade and respect of the forest. In fact, more and more investors come to pressure farmers to buy their land and make a profit. As you can imagine, Monsanto is not really welcome here. We understand without difficulty that the chief need a solution very quickly. And if we can help… Why not?
The water of Kuang Si falls
The team also makes us discover Kuang Si waterfalls, a tourist attraction located a few kilometres from Luang Prabang. They explain the story about the tourist exploitation of the site. It’s not all good, but the clear water pools are really beautiful. Despite the number of tourists, we are having a nice time at the top of the waterfall, quiet, with Buddhist monks.
We spend such a good stay with CHESH Lao and SPERI teams that when we will make a short stop in Luang Prabang going South, we’ll stop at the office for the night. Meeting with Daniel, another member of the team, dinner all together, walk at night on the River, wake up at dawn at 6 a.m to go to the morning market… We’re sure to never forget our visit to Luang Prabang. We also believe that our roads will cross again sooner or later… It’s fate that will decide like Miss Lanh would say!
Meanwhile, the Facebook page to support Long Lan village is created and Madam becomes (non)officially the community manager volunteer. What an adventure!
The temples of the city
We still enjoy our free time to discover the city by ourselves. Our Buddhist temples marathon leads us in 3 of the 30 temples in the city: to mount Phousi first, which dominates the city and which allows us to enjoy a 360 ° panorama. the complex of Wat May and then the Wat Xieng Thong, the temple of gold in the city. The night market is also a must-see (especially with a good crepe with Nutella!), just as a beer while admiring the sunset on the Mekong river.
We do not voluntarily participate in the Tak Bat, Buddhist monks procession which takes place every morning in the city at sunrise. This alms ceremony became a tourist attraction that has destroyed the traditional side of the event. This is probably something interesting to see, but perhaps in the small streets of the city, away from the bustle of the main street.
Rise in the North to Nong Khiaw
After these few days, and despite the offer to stay with the team and extend our visas, we take our first Lao minibus to go in the North, to the village of Nong Khiaw. The trip takes 4 hours. And believe us, the bus here is a nightmare. Our driver has the most rotten vehicle in the world. Broken windshield on all passenger side, side window that falls when he takes turns to the right, no AC (we can still do without). But fortunately, the stickers of the Bee Gees singers protects us and we arrive safe! 🙂
The program of these days to Nong Khiaw:
- Excursion in small villages more upstream on the River, including Muong Ngoi where we will return later
- Discovery of the waterfalls in the jungle after going through the rice fields
- Kayaking on the river
- Climb up to the view point which offers a wonderful view of the village and the River below
We also meet a few friendly people in the village. The math teacher, policeman and a tourist guide welcome us and invite us to stay with them to share a Beer Lao and the Lao Lao (rice whisky). We miss the game of petanque with OBUT balls as our heads begin to turn… Lao Lao again! 😉
In the village of Muong Ngoi
After our day discovering small villages around Nong Khiaw, we decide to make a stop at Muong Ngoi, a true haven of peace. We need to take the boat to get there. To get you in the mood, be aware that electricity 24/24 is fairly recent in the village and that there is only one “Street” that runs through the village.
We cast our sights on a small bungalow with a terrace and hammock with view on the river and the mountains in front. In addition to the exceptional view, the buffet for the breakfast ends to convince us. The “Swedish” (his name Gabriel) and his Laotian wife, cook pancakes, pancakes, fresh fruit, fried eggs, rice, a tortilla, chocolate cupcakes… every morning for your pleasure (and that of your stomach!). What more? These bungalows are the opportunity to meet great people again. We spend our time with Mathilde, a French expatriate in Thailand, Georgia, an Italian who travels alone for her first time in Asia, then Laure-Elise and Maxime, two French guys travelling for a few months in Southeast Asia before going to New Zealand for a 1-year WHV.
We take this opportunity to discover the traditional villages of Ban Na, Huay Bo and Huay Saen in the company of Georgia and Mathilde. It is all the more interesting that Mathilde speaks thai, a language very similar to Lao. She can speak with the inhabitants of the villages that we are meeting, that breezes ice and facilitates the contact.
20 kilometres later, we return to the village watching the sun set behind the mountains. The colors are beautiful and Mister takes this moment to take some last pictures.
After extended our stay in the North of Laos, we now need to go to the South of the country to discover a new region, which promises to be just as interesting. After a short stop in Vang Vieng (capital of party in Laos), time to meet Agathe, a French girl we met in Vietnam who is staying in the city, we then take the road to Thakhek. See you in a next article to discover this new adventure! 😉