Tad Sae waterfall

“One last Laos adventure” we agree before our flights in the afternoon. Missing the pools in Kuang-Si is the best unlucky decision we ever made. If we hadn’t missed them, we wouldn’t have spent 2 hours obsessively trying to figure out how, when and where we did, and come across Tad Sae waterfall. In the pictures they look very similar, but Kuang-Si is a lot bigger but farther away. Tad Sae waterfall is closer and you don’t have to hike up for 45 minutes to reach the waterfall. Once again you take a tuktuk, this day we didn’t have to go out to find a driver, because a driver approached us in the geusthouse while we were having breakfast. 200,000 kip roundtrip and be back by 12.30, fair enough.

The drive took about 30 minutes, payed another 20,000 kip to cross the river with a long boat. We were met with the sight of a mahout sitting on elephants in chairs, which pissed me off. After everything I’ve learned and seen, I can’t fathom how people still participate in this bull crap. You could see in the eyes of the poor elephant how lost and broken her soul was. I know going off on the mahouts is not the way to go, violence and anger is never the answer. The only way we can change the situation is to stop doing it, so they will know that this is not the way to make money.

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If you are put off by the thought of hiking up steep hills or through the jungle, Tad Sae might just be the place for you. After a lovely boat ride you walk some 50 foot steps to pay the entrance fee 10,000 kip, and then another 100 footsteps and you’ve reached the gorgeous Tad Sae. If you google Kuang-Si and Tad Sae they look very much alike, but in reality there is a big difference. It took me and Aubrey about two hours of obsessively googling the two waterfalls to tell them apart. But Tad Sae doesn’t have that big drop like Kuang-Si, but are built up of smaller waterfalls and endless pools. In total I think there is 3 different waterfalls. We were completely amazed by the beauty of this place. and the fact that we were completely alone for the first two hours. No one else, just the two of us to enjoy the spoils of Laos nature. I think the pictures speaks for itself, and the reaction on our faces. We did hike all the way up to the third waterfall, but turned back because it wasn’t as alluring as the first two. The second one was my favourite, this one was a bit more hidden, and it was giving me a feeling like I just entered a fairy tale realm, any minute now woodland fairies would pop their heads out. With turquoise water mesmerising your eyes you can’t help but want to jump in, cool off and snap some shots to get that perfect picture. No matter how hard you try, pictures can’t capture the beauty. Just watch out where you step as the current is really strong some places. I tried to cross to get over on the other side, but had to retreat as I was almost drag down. Take precautions and be careful, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying the natural pools.

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Kayaking in the Mekong river

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.

Kuang-Si waterfalls

There are few places left in the world where you step into what looks and feels like a fairytale realm. Kuang-Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang is one of those places. Clear turquoise water flowing down in never ending eternity pools. Your brain can’t compensate for it’s beauty and an endless “oh my god”, “wow”, “it’s so ….” is all you can manage to say, with the biggest grin over your face. Is it worth the trip? This must be one of those beautiful places overcrowded with visitors. YES, YES, YES a thousand times over, YES. Pictures, videos, stories and articles can’t justify it’s beauty, it can only be experienced. Know when to beat the crowd, get your bathing suit ready and strap on those hiking sandals, because Kuang-Si waits for no one.

One Norwegian, one French and one American girl agrees to meet at 7.30 am Monday morning, to experience this magical place firsthand. We met at Joma café in the middle of Luang Prabang, located right next to my guesthouse. The more the merry, or the more the cheaper is the slogan here in Luang Prabang. We split a tuktuk, paying 200,000 kip for a roundtrip, 5 hour tour. When haggling a tuktuk, you agree on a price and the amount of time you would like to stay at your destination, if it’s a roundtrip. Depending on the driver, some will charge you extra if the wait is long. Gasoline is very expensive and taking a trip in between waits will cost too much. You pay another 20,000 kip in entrance fees, and off you go. Remember to go early as your chances to explore and enjoy will be bigger, than if you come here later in the day. But don’t let that scare you off from coming here, as I’ve said, it’s worth it.

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On the way you will pass a bear sanctuary, with bears rescued from those who believe the bear bile will increase male virility and sexual prowess. I mean, we live in the 20th century.. Time to pack up those superstitions (China and Vietnam I’m looking at you). If you want to read more about it, you can read about it here. Warning: it’s very graphic, but informative. It amazes me how someone can hurt these furry creatures. My mind experienced cuteness overload when watching these adorable bears eat with their cute little faces. I just wanted to run up to them and cuddle (which I would never because they are wild, and wild belong in the wild), but you know, that’s just me, crazy right?

After you’ve had your dose of cuteness overload, you walk up another 5 minutes. The moment we heard the distinct sound of water falling down we all started smiling and doing a quiet squeal, like the girls we are. Reaching the waterfall is one of those experiences that’s too hard to explain in words, I’ll let the pictures speak for itself, even though pictures don’t do it any justice. We got to caught up in the beauty of it, wanting to reach that area you see in the pictures, and forgot to actually explore the lower part, which is the first part of the waterfall. As you cross the bridge there is trail you can take that will lead up to the middle part. For some reason there were a no entry sign, by the looks of it a tree had fallen down blocking the way. Like the other visitors passing by trying to warn us, we so cockily ignored, climbed back down to hike up the other trail.

So I’m not lazy, I consider myself quite sporty. But when you travel long term working out becomes less of a priority, there is just a lot more fun stuff to do, then spending time in the gym. The hike up was hot, slippery and I felt like I was going to die. I started with being first, but after 5 minutes I let my fellow travelers surpass me as I was trying to catch my breath. That’s how out of shape I am right now. The hike it self isn’t that bad, but when your body is in hibernation from workout, you will deff break a sweat, unless you are one of those weird people who don’t sweat. I’m looking at you Anadora. 45 minutes later we reached the top with a breathtaking view. Once again my brain couldn’t cope with the stunning view and I was left in awe. The top of the waterfall is worth the hike. While you soak in the view, you can swim around in the many many pools to cool off, enjoy a lao beer or go for a boat ride. Just remember bug repellent because it is the jungle after all, and those pesky little suckers are everywhere. There you have it, now it’s time for me to shut up and let you scroll through my pictures. Enjoy!

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Luang Prabang

For now this laptop lives on, and I can finally tell you about these past amazing days. From Vang Vieng the mini van drove through hills, mountains and the off beaten road the reach Luang Prabang. The roads between cities here in Laos is pretty bad, and almost everyone in our minivan got car sick. I was the last person they picked up before hitting the road and had to sit in the front. Right before the minivan picked me up I took my precautions taking a pill against motion sickness. The drive from VV to LP takes about 4 hours, driving up through the mountains. The view is amazing, so make sure to get a window seat, preferably in the front, because you know, you don’t want to hurl all the way to Luang Prabang, like one of the french guys in the minivan. As I mentioned the roads are pretty bad, and it almost gave me a heart attack. The driver drove like a mad man, almost running down everyone walking in the streets, and raping the car horn for everyone to move out of the way. At one point he almost ran over a dog, instead of slowing down to let the dog get out of the way, this guy starts speeding up, and the dog barely survived. Good gracious, we have at least another 3 hours to go. I say a little prayer and kiss my buddha for good luck.

Here are some pictures of the view you get when you drive:IMG_6701IMG_6707

In Luang Prabang I stayed at this wonderful guesthouse called Nocknoy Lanexang Geusthouse, 2 minutes walk away from the night market. Perfect location! The woman running the guesthouse were super sweet. Here you also get free breakfast, 2 bottles of water everyday along with towel change, great wifi and air con. The beds are huge and soft, guaranteed a good nights sleep. After being fairly unlucky with previous stays here in Asia, I do appreciate a nice and clean room, without bedbugs. I’m sure you can understand, so if you are looking for a nice place to stay, I whole heartedly will recommend Nocknoy.

IMG_6722(Banana pancakes, fresh fruit and mango smoothie for breakfast)

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My friend recommended me a travel group on FB, called Girls love travel, in shorts, GLT. Here you can post travel related questions, meet up with other travellers, or get travel tips. I’ve been a member of this site for a couple of months now, and haven’t met anyone, until I came here to Luang Prabang. I’ve been traveling alone for a while now, I truly love it but sometimes it gets very lonely. Especially when there is so much cool stuff to do, and sometimes you just want to share those moments with someone else. So I wrote on GLT, asking if anyone were in the area and wanted to go to Kuang Si waterfalls with me. I was in luck, a girl named Aubrey replied that she would be there as well, traveling solo and would love to go with me. And just like that, we met up in the afternoon and boy did we go on adventures together. Aubrey is the redhead chick in the pictures, and I had an amazing time together with her! Just because you travel alone, doesn’t mean you have to be alone all the time. For any other solo female travelers out there, GLT is a great community for those times when you just want to share that happiness. Traveling is a wonderful learning experience, challenging me in so many ways. For every day that goes by, I’m falling more and more in love with this world. I can’t wait for my next adventures, but first imma tell you about my awesome nature treks through the jungle in Luang Prabang.

Have a beautiful day everyone, love Chris.

Vang Vieng

It seems everywhere I go, I come across bed bugs. Those pesky little annoying sons of bitches got this ninja thing down. I usually don’t write tips and tricks, unless I’m writing about a really good or bad experience, that’s just not my blogging style. But this is the 3rd time I’ve come across bed bugs in 3 months. Luckily I caught them right before I was going to lay down in my bed. The hostel seemed so nice, so clean. There were tiny dark spots on the sheets, but I ignored them, checked the mattress, the corners and it all seemed fined. I put on my bed bug sheet, but still right before I was going to sleep, a really big one crawled over my bed. Now if you have never encountered these pesky little shits, you can’t imagine what this does to your sleep and psyche. You become paranoid, you’re afraid to sleep, you think every little dust or dirt on the bed is bed bugs. You become obsessed. It was the middle of the night, people working in the reception had gone home for the day, and there I was at midnight, wondering where the hell do I go, what do I do now. I packed up my stuff, started reading more about how to avoid bed bugs, what to look for etc. Then I walked over to another hotel, and spent the night on top of the duvet, clinging to my silk liner like it was going to save my life. This is night number 3, and I’m still paranoid. I probably got bitten, how much and how many bites I don’t know yet. It usually takes 3-4 days before the bites appear. I might get lucky and caught the bugger right before it did any damage, so fingers crossed.

My bus was picking me up from the first place I was staying in, so I walked over and explained what had happened. The manager apologised, reimbursed me, and explained they had just had pest control 4 days ago to get rid of bed bugs. And now they’re back. Like the pest control said, you can get rid of them, but you can’t avoid them. Because some traveler will bring them with them, and you know the drill. So what can you do to avoid them?

  1. If you see dark tiny spots on the sheets, don’t stay. Bed bug sheets can only do so much
  2. Keep your luggage off the floor, preferably in the bathroom
  3. Check all creeks, corners, mattresses, sheets, pillows and so on
  4. Trust your instincts
  5. Sleep with clothes on, inside of a silk liner if possible. Less skin exposed, less skin for the bed bugs to bite

Well this is all I have for tips, so if any of you got any better tips, please do share.

As I said in my previous posts, I only had one day in Vang Vieng. I really wanted to try tubing and the hot air balloon ride, but because of the lack of time, and monsoon season, I did neither. With the little time I had, I rented a bicycle and rode around for a couple of hours doing some sightseeing of my own. This city is so beautiful, I mean just take a look at the picture I posted. The first one was the view from my hotel room. Yes I stayed in a hotel, just couldn’t take the risk of bed bugs again. Even though there is no guarantee that hotels don’t have them, but here in Asia, there is a bigger risk because of all the travellers staying in hostels, they move around so quickly, that symptoms from bites don’t appear until after they’ve moved from 3 or 4 new places. So yeah the hotel was great, slept on top of the duvet again, and kept my backpack in the bathroom. But enough about bed bugs for now. Vang Vieng is such a beautiful, peaceful city with mountains everywhere. Green lush nature with a river that attracts so many travellers every single year. If you need to relax a little, take it easy after hectic traveling around SE Asia, I would say Laos is the place to be. There isn’t much to do, so learn to enjoy the calmness, and go with the flow. Get your cycling on, strap them hiking boots on or trek away through the jungle to find a hidden waterfall. Either way, Laos will have something for everyone.

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Vientiane through pictures

I wasn’t sure I was actually going to go through with my travel plans to Laos, because I was stuck in an island mindset, all I could think about was when my next dive were. Also I felt it would be same same but different, like Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. There are many similarities, like the language. I can speak Thai with everyone and they understand me, so no language barrier. But boy do I feel like this country is very different. Now I’ve only been here a couple of hours, but the little I saw, maaan it’s beautiful. The atmosphere is so chill. From what I’ve heard Vang Vieng is everyone’s favourite city, we’ll see about that tomorrow. I had high expectations for Vietnam but was disappointed, or didn’t see the allure like everyone else. For many different reasons, like rudeness of most people I encountered, the lack of will to help accommodate my vegetarian diet. I’ll tell more about that when I get to writing about the last part of my Vietnam trip. Anyways, back to Laos. I’ll just keep an open mind about this country, without any expectations. Kinda hard to have any when I booked my tickets 24 hours ago, without doing any research. Whatever happens, happens.

Vientiane, I like you. You are beautiful, and here is a handful of photos I snapped while strolling around, trying to cover as much ground as possible before the sun set. There was a strong french atmosphere going on in this city, I like it. Enjoy!

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Check in: Laos.

You know that feeling you get when you can’t really be bothered with doing anything or going anywhere. Koh Tao definitely had that effect on me. I ended up staying longer than I had intended, and in the midst of the island vibe I forgot to cancel my reservation for the hotel in Laos as proof of onward travels from Thailand. The reservation is in 2 days, non-refundable, in Luang Prabang. I had to leave the country on the 28th anyways so might as well get my ass in gear. My hotel booking is in Luang Prabang for 4 days, but I would love to see more of this beautiful country. Last night I booked a last minute flight for today with Air Asia. Air Asia is the asian version of our Norwegian, with super cheap tickets for all the neighbouring countries here in Asia.

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The next days will be pretty hectic to say the least. I need to start exploring as much as I can, I have less than 24 hours in Vientiane, which is where I am right now. Tomorrow my bus leaves for Vang Vieng at 9.30 am, where I will also only be staying one night before going to Luang Prabang, and then finally relax a little again. It’s really easy to get around here in Asia, every hostel is so used to backpackers that they have arrangements with the bus companies. You just buy a ticket for your next destination in the reception, and they come and pick you up wherever you are. I’ve heard stories about bus travels in Laos, so let’s just say I will be taking my motion sickness pills, and drink up on coffee when I arrive, as those pills make me sleepy.

After 10 days living on a beach my mind is no where near the hectic state of mind one needs to travel around like I am going to the next couple of days. But I have done some research and there is a few things I would love to experience, like tubing down the river in Vang Vieng. So stay tuned! I promise I’ll try to be better at updating my whereabouts and what’s what. I even have a ton of film to edit from Cambodia, same with pictures from Vietnam. With the whole bedbug situation everything got pushed back. Well for now, tudelu!