As the kayak glides down the river I look around, amazed by the stunning scene to my left and to my right. In my mind I’m playing one of my favourite songs “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. “Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river. Said we rolling, rolling, rolling on the river. Tu tu tu ….” I hum the lyrics to myself as I smile and feel this blast of happiness streaming through my body. I’m sure I’m not the only who does this, but whenever I go somewhere or do something, I always think back to a song that reminds me of the place I’m in, the song now becomes the song that takes me back to that moment and that day.  Being here in Laos has made me realise so many things about myself, and the life I want to continue to have when I get home. How far I’ve come from when I first started this trip and how different my mindset has become. I always used to say I need to go find myself whenever I felt lost, but one night me and Aubrey discussed life, the universe and the whole bunch, and the topic about losing yourself in a relationship came up. The sentence “find yourself” came up too, and I realised how wrong that sentence is, for me at least. Traveling has opened many doors and opportunities, but most importantly I didn’t find myself, I got reacquainted with myself. That’s why I don’t like the phrase “go find yourself”, indicating that we are all lost here in this world. No, we are not all lost. Some of us just needs to get to know ourselves again, reconnect with our inner child who so badly wants to come out and play. I never lost myself, I only forgot about those parts that made me, into me. And ever since I realised that, I’ve been happier than I have been in a very long time. Something else I realised rolling down the river, is how much I love being outside and doing outdoorsy activities like diving, hiking and kayaking.

Last time I kayaked I think I was 12, it was a school trip and I don’t remember much. But I do remember some of the kids managed to flip the kayak and was wet the rest of the day. We didn’t flip the kayak, no me and Aubrey paddled the Mekong river like champs. We went with Green discovery tours, paying 41 USD each. The more people joining in, the cheaper the price. One of the girls called in sick so it was just me and Aubrey, and the guide of course. The drive out to the start point took 45 minutes ish, as the car was driving down to the river, two little boys followed running after the car, their laughter echoing in the mountains. I snapped a photo and they gladly posed with the biggest smile on their faces, finding this foreigner taking their picture hilarious. Me and Aubrey shared a kayak making us a lot faster than our guide, taking several breaks just gliding while waited for him to catch up. The sun was so strong and it felt like my skin was burning. I did put on SPF 50, but that didn’t stop me from getting a deep tan. In fact I am super tan now after being out in the sun these last 3 weeks. After 1 hour we reached Pak Ou caves, also known as Buddha caves. Back in the day the locals didn’t have temples, they would come up to the caves instead. Still to this day, people come up here to give their offerings and prayers. Before going home we did one more stop at a village called Whiskey village, to see how the locals live. We were greeted by 3 adorable little boys dressed up as superheroes. Batman and superman all gladly posed for my camera, like Aubrey so vividly put it, my eggs are ringing haha. After the village we paddled another 10 minutes to the checkpoint where the car awaited. All in all we paddled 10 km down the river, and the next day we could tell by how sore our shoulders and backs were.

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If you find yourself in Luang Prabang wanting to do it too, you should go but not with this company. It was a great tour, but Green discovery felt rather unprofessional. I don’t know if it’s just a Laos thing, but we spent one hour extra picking up the kayak equipment, not letting Aubrey know before picking her up, she waited one hour not knowing if they were coming or not. We did several more stops back and forth, on the way back our guide even stopped to buy chicken cages. Once again dropping off the equipment instead of dropping me off first. I spent 2 hours longer than necessary, they even tried to charge us extra because the other girl canceled. So do the tour but choose another company. Kayaking was a super fun activity leaving me with an amazing memory. It’s something different that I will gladly continue to do when it’s time for me to return home. On this trip so many people have asked me if I’m doing a gap year, no this isn’t my gap year, this is my bucket list year. Where I do everything I’ve ever wanted and never tried before, like golfing and Go karting. I know, I’ve never gone Go karting but that is going to change very soon. So stay tuned!

Have a Buddhaful day, love Chris.

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