I’m writing from a rooftop bungalow in Ubud, Bali (Indonesia). Arrived yesterday from Bangkok. How did we get here you ask? Trains, planes, boats and automobiles. And walking :) Autumn and I spent a total of about 10 days in Laos – not quite enough to see and do everything I had planned on. About a week ago we had to make some difficult choices. Originally we had aspirations of visiting Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia AND Bali. Not sure what we were smoking as Autumn only has a month out here and unless you have the funds to fly everywhere, there is no way you’re going to see 5 countries in 5 weeks. Autumn’s one ‘must’ was Bali, so we decided to cut Laos short, skip Vietnam and Cambodia and booked a flight to Bali out of Bangkok where we’ll spend her final week before she heads back to the states. I know I’ll get back to Laos and Vietnam at some point – I still want to spend time in the far reaches of both countries. It actually makes good sense – the height of the monsoon season begins in SE Asia this month which makes travel and trekking very difficult. It would make much more sense for me to come back in a few months when the trails dry up. Plus Bali is absolutely perfect in July – high of 85, low of 70 and no rain. Every single day 🙂 And its Bali.
A rundown of the highlights in Laos:
- Riding a slow boat for two days along the Mekong river
- Spending 4 days in Luang Prabang, the slow-paced, French-inspired city in Northern Laos
- Three nights way off the beaten path in Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi
- Looking for the full solar eclipse the day after it happened (more on this later)
- Exploring ancient caves that villagers hid in during the recent wars
- Waking at 5am to give alms to the monks in Luang Prabang
- Waking on my 30th birthday in a small riverside bungalow in a town without electricity or roads, then traveling back to Luang Prabang for an amazing dinner and to watch a performance of Lao traditional ballet.
Our epic journey to Bali consisted of the following: A 2 hour boat ride , followed by a 4.5 hour journey on a 12-seat van with 18 people in it (No AC, a girl having seizures in the front seat and an engine that had to take any hill greater than 5 degrees in first gear). Then the next day a 12 hour bus ride to Vientiane in a broken seat that reclined into the persons lap behind me (meaning I had to sit upright the entire time), followed by a night-train (actually really cool when you splurge for first class!) to Bangkok and ultimately a 4am wake-up call to catch a flight to Bali…. I thought I’d share some of the more painful aspects of world travel – its not all cultural immersion and blissful bungalows. :) But the truth is over time your comfort level and expectations change, you learn to be still, to not let little inconveniences upset you as they would easily do at home. I consider myself a patient person already, wait until you see me after this trip!