Category Archives: Laos

Even on my way to Phonsavan I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the trip. But that’s the thing about traveling, if you take a chance, at times you’re rewarded with unique experiences you never expected to have. Phonsavan is the capital of the most bombarded province in the world! Not just Laos, but the world! Still thousands of bombs are scattered around the landscape. In Laos, people still get hurt by unexploded ordnance on a daily basis. So why on earth was I heading this way? It took me over 6 hours to get here from the popular Van Vieng. At the North bus station I boarded a big family car. What!? Yeah, this was my bus. My bag ends up on the roof and I sit on a fold-out seat next to the window. There are 3 rows of people and 2 people squeeze in next to…

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Our guide Lo started awkwardly introducing himself on the ride to Paksong. He sounded a bit like a robot, coming through in pieces, as if I had a bad Skype connection. As it turned out, this was just his style of talking and had nothing to do with nerves. He explained a bit about the great adventure we were embarking on. When we arrived in the small town where our journey would start, harnesses were already spread out on the ground. Around the property lay loads of big tarps on which coffee beans were drying. The harnesses looked strange in this setting. But we needed them for our ziplinging jungle adventure. Our group consisted of myself and 2 other solo female travelers, an Italian family and some Korean men. Some carabiners and a pulley were attached to our harnesses, we got a helmet and were ready to go. We had…

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Being in Laos seems like such a long time ago. So much has happened since. I’m working on my photo album and all these memories come back. Like the time I took a bus to Kong Lor cave. It took me a day to get there and a day to get back, but it was so worth it! On the bus were a few couples and a group of French girls. I was the only solo traveller. When I finally arrived I knocked on some doors to find accommodation. The first one was too expensive and as I walked out the door some other people just arrived and one of these unpredictable things happened. “O… is this one full? one of the guys asked. I explained that I was going to look for another place because this one was too expensive for me. “I’ll share with you if you want.”…

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On our last morning in Muang Ngoy we had a buffet breakfast on a corner restaurant, with pancakes, waffels, banana pastries, tea, fruit, muesli and lots more. It was a really a feast. After eating way too much we walked down to the boat ramp and waited for the ferries to leave. Some people were already climbing on the boats even though they weren’t sure which boat would go to Nong Khiaw. They just wanted the best seats for themselves. We waited like good obedient people and climbed in a boat when the boatmen arrived. In the end two boats ended up going to Nong Khiaw. Ours was really packed! I tried to sit more comfortably than the way here, but I just didn’t have enough space. We were asked to squish together more and more and then it turned out the other boat barely had any people on it!…

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The main mode of transportation on Don Det is the bicycle. Most of the ‘roads’ are small dirt tracks with lots of sharp rocks. I decided to rent a bike at my bungalow, 10.000KIP for the day, a bargain, and make my way across the bridge to the bigger island Don Khon. Nothing is for free, not even an island, so you pay 35.000KIP to enter the big island. There is a man sitting at the end of the bridge to make sure you pay. In return you get an entry ticket that you can use to visit the waterfall park. Since it is the main attraction of the island, I make my way there first.     The road there is a bit confusing because when you hit a crossing there are two signs that say waterfalls that point in two different directions. I happen to pick the right…

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Tad Lo is a tiny town in southern Laos that can be reached by bus from Pakse. It is also a popular spot on the motorbike loop around the Bolaven plateau. The nature in this area is incredible and in season there are many waterfalls. Tad Lo actually has three waterfalls, but the furthest one is about 10km away. However, you can cross some fields and take a shortcut like the locals do. My guesthouse owner recommended a guide. I was just planning to visit the first two falls today and perhaps take a guide tomorrow. The first waterfall, Tad Hang, was right on the main street. You could see it from the bridge. Then you can walk through a resort to get onto a path that leads to the actual Tad Lo waterfall. The waterfalls are beautiful, even though it is dry season, but the best part is perhaps what happens around the waterfalls. Right…

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I got bitten by a dog while exploring Savannakhet in Laos. I went to the hospital there straight away for the rabies shot. Unfortunately a series of 5 shots is necessary. So my hospital adventures continued… I’m in Pakse, just south of Savannakhet when it’s time for my second rabies shot. I wasn’t too excited about another hospital visit, but this just had to be done. I walked through the entrance, but there was no reception. After wandering all over the hospital, I asked someone, showing my vaccination card, and they sent me to the ER. The doctors were all just sitting around. There were obviously no emergencies at this time in the morning. The  hospital seemed quiet in general. Most of the doors were open en the scarcely furnished rooms had no patients.     One doctor wrote me a prescription and I had to go pick it up…

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South East Asia has a lot of stray cats and dogs. I’ve seen them in all the countries I’ve travelled through. In some they looked worse than in others. Especially in Myanmar and Laos, they just scared me. I got into several situations where aggressive dogs made me change my path, not visit a temple or just too scared to continue. It’s like the dogs smell you are foreign and that is enough to attack. I have enough time to realise it. I am going to get bitten. Savannakhet was one of those places that seemed to have more dogs than people on the street. The sun was setting and I had my first stroll through the colonial part of town. I’m in a street where a few people are sitting in front of their houses and others are preparing food. A dog lies on someone’s property and starts to look…

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There was one more thing I really wanted to do in Luang Prabang. Online I’d found a workshop to make your own paper jewellery with a local. It seemed like an incredibly fun thing to do and a nice change from all the walking, temples and museums. So I signed up online via Backstreets academy and made my way to the shop where the workshop would start. After crossing the bamboo bridge, that is only open during the dry season and taken down before the rains start, I arrived at Garden of Eden. There is a small jewellery shop with all kinds of necklaces, bracelets and earrings. I got to choose two items that I wanted to make. Although they didn’t have to be made from paper beads, I decided to choose two items with paper beads, so I could practise making the beads themselves as well as putting it…

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Savannakhet, or Savan as it’s mostly called, is a sleepy, provincial capital city without any famous attractions. Yet it’s the third largest city in Laos. It’s bizarre, because it seems so quiet. Arriving by bus, I see some big companies, like the Nikon Laos headquarters. I guess the location is strategic, not far from the Thai border and relatively close to Vietnam. Savannakhet used to be colonised by the French and you can see it in many of the buildings. Some have been restored, but many are various states of decay. It’s a strange mix with the old houses on stilts, modern houses and the Lao lifestyle. People here enjoy sitting in front of their houses in the late afternoon, seemingly uninterested in what’s going on. They might look if you pass, and some might should a friendly ‘Sabai dee’. The streets are full of big white cars and colourful tuktuks. Sidewalks are often broken…

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