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Old 26th October 2021, 18:08   #1
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Default Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure

Prologue
Back in early 2019 (seems a lifetime ago), I took a sabbatical break from work and decided to just backpack as a wandering nomad. After a month puttering around home dili-dalying where I should travel, things came to a point that I had spent over a month without yet initiating travel plans and visa processes for any specific region.

It was then a friend in Singapore suggested that he was going to be a bachelor for a few weeks (wife & kid going home) and threw the idea of me joining him. Great - one destination decided! But then I still had over a month before those dates came up. So the decision was made - figure out options in south-east Asia that allow visa on arrival. Also it would be peak summer (April - May) so had to choose carefully. I had been to Thailand quite a few times so I picked Laos and then Cambodia, before heading to Singapore to catch up with my friend.

This photolog-travelogue is about the 3 weeks spent in the land-locked country of Laos. A country that is not known to a lot of Indians, as well as Indians are rarely seen in that country. Extremely rare considering I didn't see a single other Indian and every individual I met would wonder aloud that they never see Indians in Laos. Consider this - there's hardly a mention of Laos in this forum before this thread.

Also this is going to be a compact travelogue with most of the story telling and context to be focused around pictures.


Wiki
Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Thailand, Mynamar, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. The climate is mostly tropical savanna, with thickly forested landscape consists mostly of rugged mountains and some plains and plateaus. Laos can be considered to consist of three geographical areas: north, central, and south, with majority of the provinces still not touched by proper roads or any other means. However China is making a huge change to that building the China - Laos railway line that cuts across the entire country towards Thailand on the other end. While that will still take a few more years for the entire line to finish, road transport that is primarily dependent on private players is the main means of transport across the country.

Compared to it's neighboring countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia) that are tourist magnets, Laos is still an untapped ecosystem with beautiful mountains, unblemished waterfalls and rivers that are abounding with natural beauty. Laos people are extremely friendly and warm, and even though English & French is still gaining momentum (much less compared to Thailand/Vietnam, etc.), one can easily get around without much constraints. Travel and boarding are quite inexpensive (even compared to Thailand) and the country is more frequented by backpackers and Chinese tourists who find this an easy getaway across their border.

Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure-laos-1.jpg


Itinerary
While I did book entry flights to Bangkok and exit flight from Phnom Penh (to Singapore), basis feedback from fellow travelers during the trip, Cambodia had to be dropped from the plan as apparently by mid April, the heat would be too high to do anything worthwhile traveling.

The final itinerary : Chennai - Bangkok - (Laos) Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang - Pakse - Bolaven plateau - Pakse - Bangkok - Krabi - Singapore - Chennai

Entry into Laos was done via catching a train from Bangkok to Nong Khai (border city adjacent to Laos) and then crossing the border. Similarly exit from Laos was done from Pakse to Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) and taking an overnight bus back to Bangkok. Apart from these, one could catch flights to the capital city of Vientiane.

Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure-laos-2.jpg

And so, the photologue begins. Hope you find this entertaining and maybe useful if you decide to head towards this beautiful and relatively untapped country.

Last edited by ninjatalli : 28th November 2021 at 17:06.
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Old 12th November 2021, 14:37   #2
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Default Episode 1: Vientiane (capital)

Description: This was the shortest episode with the plan on entering Laos via a mix of rail and road. I landed in Bangkok early morning and caught a train later in the evening to Nong Khai, a small border town next to the Laos border. I had no clear plans but just a rough itinerary of spending about 2 weeks in north Laos starting from their capital Vientiane (and half a week later in South Laos). Literally, the idea was to expand on the travel plan as the days pass by. Infact, I only knew that India was on the list of countries that is given visa on arrival - but visa how many days, what documents are needed, what is the process; I choose to do the research on the way. I soon crossed the border and after paying a monetary amount, I got a 30-day visa and also made friends with a couple of French and Mexican backpackers who had accompanied me on the same train.


Hua Lamphong station (main station of Bangkok) was a pleasant surprise and reminded me of Indian railway stations. The trains were similar to ours with a mix of first class, second class, AC & non-AC bogies similar to ours. Thailand has a decent (no where extensive as ours) railway map reaching all corners of the country with affordable pricing options)


I had booked my ticket online in advance (equivalent to 2nd AC sleeper). While the color combo on the outside were quite intriguing, the interiors of the compartments were quite similar to ours but with a few minor differences


One big difference was the lounge coach next to the pantry - one could buy a few food and beverage items and sit here and have your food. Surprisingly not many chose to use this service and I had the entire coach to myself


A tuk-tuk from the border crossing took me to the capital city Vientiane. I decided to head to the hostel with the backpacking friends I had made and decided to halt for the day over there. Moving across the country for backpackers was through two means - private buses (sleeper/sitting), minivans and the sorts; primarily focused at this community who could pay for the same...


... and the other option was to procure your own 2-wheeler bike. Cheap chinese made bikes were the defacto option; other alternative being expensive Japanese bikes which were obviously much more reliable. Buying a bike like these in Laos was an easy affair - you'd get ads of bikes being sold in craigslist kind of online forums or through the hostel network. The bikes come with a blue laminated bike registration card that is 'transferrable' to the new owner without any documentation. Cops don't usually trouble foreigners as long as they are able to follow the laws and although the bikes do break down a lot, most village/towns have ready mechanics who can tinker around get the bike running


I helped my newly found friends buy one such bike from another French backpacking couples. A few hundreds of dollars changed hands, a pair of helmets, the blue card and keys were handed over, and voila. They were owners of a used bike for their ~1 month trip in Laos. Their work-in-progress plan was to travel around the country and then resell the bike at the end of the trip again.


After doing a bit of sightseeing with my friends overnight before they headed out the next day morning, I too decided to catch a morning bus to my next destination, Vang Vieng, the party capital of Laos. It was a short 3+ hour bus ride trip, which surprisingly saw some unexpected rains in the middle of summer (no, we weren't complaining).

Last edited by ninjatalli : 28th November 2021 at 16:12.
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Old 12th November 2021, 14:40   #3
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Default Episode 2: Vang Vieng (Party capital of Laos)

Description: My next destination, Vang Vieng, a small outlet that would be smaller than one of the villages of Goa (think Calungate or Baga), deep in the jungle of Laos on the banks of Nam Song river, is a backpacker paradise where there are no rules. It is also one of the planet's most improbable party town.

Along with its towering limestone peaks, the area is dense with caves, lagoons and forests. Reachable only by dusty roads, the 'city' is composed of a main street featuring guest houses, bars, restaurants, internet cafes, and tour agencies and a several ancillary by-lanes and streets.

The main crowd here is a mix of young and old foreigners (many of them being American vets from the 'Nam wars) who throng the numerous wooden bars around the river, with numerous activities like kayaking, tubing, rope swings, giant water slides and zip lines over the river as well as trekking and rappelling activities in the mountains around the town. Practically a fun place ever one could think off.


After reaching my backpackers' hostel, I decide to rent a cycle and go around the picturesque town passing one of the numerous wooden bridges over the river


Immediately as I reach the end of the extremely small town, the hills around become visible as I decide to head towards Nam Xay viewpoint, one of the best spot to get a 360deg breathtaking view of Vang Vieng's surroundings


I park the cycle and head up the short climb to the viewpoint. The views are worth dying for (Vang Vieng is the small town you see in top left corner)


Not sure how they did it, but there's this amazing bike positioned at the top just for tourists to take pics. What is more impressive is the untouched mountains behind while the sun begins to set


I soon head back to the hostel and decide to hit the street. After a quaint dinner, I head towards one of the open-venues. It's party night apparently (as I found out later every night was party night!) as the clock goes beyond 11 and yet the crowd only seems to be increasing in number


There's all kind of fun stuff going around. Considering the average age was probably around 20 and with the levels of intoxication all around, I wasn't surprised at some of the activities continuing till early morning.


Next day morning I decide to continue my 'tour' of the town and head towards the karst limestone mountains surrounding the town, right adjacent to the river.


As I climbed up the stairs to head to the limestone caves, over here I see a different set of 'tourists'; more aged and a mix of Chinese and SE-asians than the young crowd I saw yesterday


The caves are an amazing sight - extremely well managed (for a entry fee) with proper stairs and lighting on routes that go through the entire mountain range


Viewpoints from the caves offer a nice view of the town and the river flowing next to it


Later during the day, I rent a scooter and head towards one of the many 'blue lagoon' shacks that dot the hills around the town. The road is dusty and broken down with the afternoon summer sun not helping at all


But the destination makes it worth the ride. The crystal blue colors are due to the limestone rocks of the mountain and there are numerous slides and tubing activities for one to spend atleast a few hours at this natural lagoon



By the time I'm finished, the sun has started setting and I take a more longer roundabout route to head back to the town


I go around the town completely and hit the main highway (from Vientine to Luang Prabang while passing through Vang Vieng) which is thankfully under repair/upgrades primarily by the neighboring Chinese (who have made huge investments in this country)

Last edited by ninjatalli : 28th November 2021 at 16:17.
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Old 12th November 2021, 14:43   #4
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Default Episode 3: The Vang Vieng Challenge

Description: The impressive array of mountains around Vang Vieng offered an array of trekking and other options. What I opted for was a well constructed 2 day trekking event popularly known as the 'Vang Vieng Challenge' (link) that consisted of climbing up 800 mt's through jungles and waterfalls on the first day, have an overnight halt at the top in a tree house and then a mix of climbing down through waterfalls and ziplining through the jungles back again.

I had the company of a bunch of European backpackers, mostly a mix of young folks who were backpacking through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam over a period of 3 - 6 months. After a few initial introductions and initial inquisitive questions when I tell them I'm traveling alone, surprisingly the Q&A focuses on travel suggestions/recommendations in India - apparently, a lot of them (from different countries & travel plans) wanted to include India in their 6-month itinerary but weren't sure on where to start. They were thrilled to get someone whom they could throw all kinds of questions - which thankfully broke the ice among us.


We are dropped off at the base of the mountains and the trek begins. Honestly we didn't realize how tough it was going to be trekking in the heat with temperatures easily going 30+ within the hour of us starting on foot


As we head up the mountain, we soon take a brief halt around lunchtime when the organizing team cook up a simple meal for us


At times the hike would pass some waterfalls which if we were lucky, there'd be a bridge to help pass over it, most of the time we would be going around it which meant longer and tougher climbs hugging the cliffs


While the climb up on an extremely hot and humid day tested us, what made it worth was the amazing tree house at the top with a tiny 'caretaker' who was extremely friendly to all of us


The next day started the real fun as we started heading down the waterfalls initially. Some in the group hadn't rappelled in the past and...


...there were a few slow starts with hiccups. But it was still early morning, the water was nice and cold, and the heat hadn't yet picked up. People were having fun...


... The water levels were just enough for us to get lightly drenched, and if not there was always the option to jump into the shallow pools at the bottom.


Rappelling down falls wasn't new to me. What I was more interested was in the network of ziplines the organisers had setup across the mountains. We had about 9 ziplines crisscrossing through the mountains. Prior to this I had done ziplines only in man-made parks, never in the wild jungles!


The starting ramp would seem innocous, like amidst a plantation of wild banana trees seen here. Quite normal, one would think...


... But then once the individual started off, s/he just disappeared into the jungle! Some of these ziplines were more than a kilometer long, connecting between two adjacent peaks!


And yea, the zipline experience, thanks to my GoPro that finally came handy for the moment. The ziplines would end on a treetop, after which we'd zipline again to a lower point, or rappel down to the foot of the tree and trek down to the next zipline

------------
The event was physically challenging and needed us to have a good level of fitness. What I gained out of that event was a bunch of cool backpackers who gave me a lot of inputs on how to better spend the next ~2 weeks in Laos as well as informed me on the situation (summer heat, etc.) in Cambodia which kind of set the ball rolling for me to eventually change the plan to leave out Cambodia and figure out something else after Laos. But mostly I had an awesome 2 days in the mountains doing a very well planned and executed event.

Last edited by ninjatalli : 28th November 2021 at 16:23.
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Old 12th November 2021, 16:38   #5
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Default Episode 4: Luang Prabang (Royal capital of Laos)

Description: Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Luang Prabang Province in northern Laos, lies in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. Inhabited for thousands of years, it was the royal capital of the country until 1975. It’s known for its many Buddhist temples, including the gilded Wat Xieng Thong, dating to the 16th century, and Wat Mai, once the residence of the head of Laotian Buddhism (source wiki). In recent years, Luang Prabang, unlike the rest of the country had been commercialized enough for rich foriegners with fancy resorts adjacent to the temples. Thankfully the city also was a backpackers haven with an excellent network of hostels and cafes focused on the backpacking community.


After settling down in the hostel, I decide to head towards Phousi hill, a popular hill in the center of the city that offered a roundabout view of the city. The Mekong river in a subdued state (this was peak summer hence water levels were much lower) passing next to the city


In comparison the Nam Khan river is barely the size of one its tributary. The elevated banks on both sides show how much higher the water levels will be during monsoon


Luang Prabang being a Buddhist temple town, every corner of the city has a shrine, and this hill was no different, with a shrine occupying every corner possible


Next day morning I decided to go for a run around the city running adjacent to the river bank. While there were several mainstream bridges, every few hundred feet, one would encounter walking bridges like these that offer a shortcut I guess


I decided to take it easy and spend the afternoon at a beautiful cafe right next to the Nam Khan river. A burger, a few drinks and a book on this wonderfully quaint and easy going cafe literally took care of the hot afternoon. Seems like many others had the same idea


Apart from the beautiful temples, Luang Prabang was known for it's close proximity to the drop dead gorgeous Kuang Si Falls. After a short one hour ride, this is what I get to see - a picture postcard image literally


The falls are a three-tiered waterfall beginning with shallow pools at the base that are highly popular with tourists while the upper tiers are generally left to those who feel the enthusiasm to climb up. The steps are literally through & adjacent to the falls


Inspite of me reaching early enough, there's a decent crowd at the base. But as I head up to the higher tiers, I hit gold with hardly a soul around. I literally have the falls to myself as I decide to spend easily upwards of an hour in the falls.


After an hour, I head back down and the crowd has picked up quite a bit by then. I take a last few images of the gorgeous falls and head back to the city


One of the numerous Wat (meaning temple) dotting the city


While language wasn't a problem, my focus on trying local items and my being vegetarian led down sometimes to interesting choices. This was one item that was tofu based and extremely delicious. I'm pretty sure the sauces I had weren't vegetarian but I sure wasn't complaining.

Last edited by ninjatalli : 28th November 2021 at 16:27.
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Old 13th November 2021, 20:19   #6
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Default Episode 5: Pakse and Vat Phou (Hindu&Buddhist Temple)

Description: My next destination was to Pakse, deep south. A long, not-so-comfortable overnight sleeper bus ride took me from Luang Prabang to Pakse next day morning. Pakse as a city itself was hardly important, other than being a border city to neighboring Thailand across the mighty Mekong river. What Pakse offered was a gateway to some of the best tourist locations that Laos has to offer and the city literally thrives on it (apart from the industries the river enables). I was coming to the 3rd and last week of my trip and the plan for the next few days was to keep Pakse as the base location and drive around on a rented scooter.

Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure-img_20190414_072952.jpg
My hostel stay at Pakse - I was getting quite comfortable with this kind of AC room setup with about 6 - 10 compartmentalized beds for each individual with curtains ensuring some level of privacy. Each 'compartment' came with a separate light, 1 or 2 plug points and quite a comfy bed. Rules were quite simple - zero noise (no talking/chit-chatting/phone calls/video watching which was maintained at every hostel I stayed

Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure-img_20190414_101452.jpg
This map clearly listed out my go-to plan for the next ~3 days - first heading down south to Wat Phou (/Vat Phou) and then going around the Bolaven plateau (think Coorg) on a rented scooter. Most of South Laos (plateau region) was thankfully a few degrees cooler due to the higher elevations


I head out to Vat Phou, a Khmer Hindu temple complex that is in ruins and undergoing restoration, by of all associations possible, by the Archaeological Survey of India!!!


The shrine(s) are located at the top of a steep climb with some very old trees lining up both sides of the steps. Although in ruins, the steps are quite sturdy/secure


The climb is definitely not easy for those with weak knees, as the incline was quite steep. Thankfully the climb is only takes about ~15 mins


Expecting a Shiva lingam at the top, I'm surprised by this Buddhist shrine. A bit of online search tells me although the Hindu temple was there from the 5th century, the surviving structures are from Buddhist civilization from the 11th to 13th century


The impressive (but unfortunately in ruins) temple structure at the top of the hill. Even though in ruins, i was impressed by the cleanliness of the site. Not a single visible piece of plastic or any other garbage lying around. Indian archeological (/tourist) sites can definitely take a leaf out of the Laos book.


The view of the entire structure down below then is first visible, something that one misses out understanding when climbing up. The trees lining up look so glorious now, I wonder how impressive this structure would have been during it's glory days


As I climb back down, I take a closer pic of the site at the base. The whole architecture has a lot of similarities to Angkor Wat style (both sites are linked). I finally head back to my hostel to call it an early night as I have a long ride planned to the Bolaven plateau for tomorrow.

Last edited by ninjatalli : 28th November 2021 at 16:02.
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Old 13th November 2021, 20:25   #7
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Default Episode 6: Bolaven Plateau

Description: Bolaven plateau is an elevated region in southern Laos, most of it located within Champasak province of Laos. The plateau is crossed by several rivers and has many scenic waterfalls. The region focuses on two primary economic contributors to the region: agricultural production and more importantly, tourism; something that the rest of Laos lacks in comparison (except for cities like Luang Prabang and few others). In the past, during colonization by the French, coffee was introduced as a cash crop which did very well thanks to the extremely rich soil & rainfall and perfect weather conditions. Which thankfully also works very for tourism.


Bolaven plateau is famous for two things - coffee estates and numerous waterfalls spread across the plateau. Not sure why, but throughout the next two days, I got a feeling of deja vu of being in Coorg. The most similar aspect - a out-of-the-blue burst of rains put a spanner on my roadtrip, within an hour of my riding.


But I'm in luck - the rains stop me exactly near a ultra-cool cafe located next to a coffee estate and I decide to take a well-deserved coffee break right there. Apart from serving coffee and other edibles, they sold tea, coffee, spices and other assortments grown in their estate.


And the coffee was out of the world. Till then, I had tea and coffee across Laos that tasted very similar to stuff that you'd get in any city. But this coffee was way way better, so much that I buy a few packets of coffee powder (a dumb move as I found out many more coffee beans & coffee powder options over the next 48 hours)


Thankfully the rain stops after an hour and I head back to my first destination, Tad Fan, an impressive waterfall with a nice viewpoint to see the falls.


Clearly with tourists in their mind, the viewpoint has a small walk adjacent to the cliff through some forest cover. Unfortunately (for me), there wasn't an option to head down to the falls so I decide to head out to the next falls, Tad Champee


And boy was that a good decision or what. Tad Champee falls, although much smaller in size and height, are open to tourists completely. Luckily when I reach the falls (situated amidst coffee estates), there's hardly any crowd


I head further down to the base pool under the falls and the sight in front of me is perfect for a dip


And that's what I do! The water isn't that deep and the flow thankfully isn't too strong to prevent me to get into the cliff-cave behind the falls. I spend a while sitting under the falls when I start seeing the crowd arriving and I head back out.




The road back to the highway passes through waves and waves of coffee estates and I decided to humor myself and go around the estates


My next destination is Tad Yuang falls, an impressive waterfall that mixes the best of both previous falls - it is big but yet not that big enough, to allow visitors to come close to 'feel' the water. Those who are more active (and I sure wasn't alone here) could easily jump into the large pool adjacent to the falls.


This site was surely a popular one with a decked-up walkaway and a few restaurants to the falls. And quite decent among of footfalls, presumably the most I saw across all the falls

Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure-img_20190415_161033-1.jpg
My next destination was one that was deep in the forests of the plateau, one that wasn't very frequented by tourists. Tad Tayiesua was something of a budding (WIP) commercial site built next to a meeting point of multiple streams/rivers causing the creation of 7 seven waterfalls. There was hardly any information online, the only references I could find was on blogs like these of fellow travelers across the plateau


Surprisingly the minimalistic resort/guesthouse built at the site hardly had a few visitors, with absolutely no mobile network and the access/entry roads all literally being broken down dirt roads. Thankfully the resort was fantastic even if in a minimalistic eco-friendly way. After a long day reaching the place, I decide to just try my luck with one of the nearest falls before I crash


A quick short walk leads me to this 3-tier falls - even in peak summer, the flow of water is decent enough to be visible from afar


Compared to the earlier falls I went during the day, this one is far from commercially viable. The climb down to the falls is kind of something I'd be doing in our Western Ghats through thorny bushes and sorts.


But it's definitely worth it - no leeches around (probably not the season I guess). I had enough of getting wet for the day so I just sit around the water for a while before heading back to the resort.


Next day morning, I head to the restaurant when I notice a stream flowing right next to it. I quickly walk down and spend a while over there.


What a beautiful view - if I didn't have my breakfast ready, I'd probably just jump in and spend an hour out there.


But the breakfast was ready and I was hungry. I couldn't think of a better place/view in my entire trip than this place. If I didn't have a plan to go visiting all the falls nearby, I'd probably grab a book and drink loads of coffee right at that table (overlooking the falls/stream)


The host informs me to head to the main falls as some of the others might not be worth it given the lesser flow of water due to summer season. I take his advice and head to the primary falls and spend upwards of an hour over there before I head back to the resort


After that I head back to the road to continue further on the loop. There are numerous more falls on the way, some right next to the highway and some requiring a bit of walk/trek like this one. The rest of the day is spent going around the plateau taking coffee breaks at various cafes on the way and just enjoying the ride and amazing weather conditions. And in a fashion I couldn't have planned better, my Laos trip was coming to an end, on a high note riding across empty roads amidst the mountains.

Last edited by ninjatalli : 28th November 2021 at 16:33.
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Old 13th November 2021, 20:37   #8
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Default Epilogue (and the smaller details)

Epilogue

When I started out from Bangkok 3 weeks ago, I had absolutely no idea what to expect in Laos. I only had a list of cities to visit and figure out what to do on the fly. In fact given the 3 weeks timeline (my longest time spent in any tourist country till date), I had a long list of places to go across Laos - the wonderful mountains of Nong Khiaw up north, the supposedly beautiful national parks of Phou Hin Poun & Nakai-Nam Theun in central Laos and the river islands of Don Det down south (in the middle of the might Mekong river). What I discovered on the fly was the friendly & helpful nature of backpackers - while they were surprised to see a lone Indian (we hardly travel alone and generally not through the hostel network down in SE Asia), after a few initial Qs, most of them turned out extremely helpful and gave me a lot more inputs on potential future traveling plans to Vietnam, Mynamar and surprisingly, a country that's literally a stone's throw away from us, Sri Lanka - a plan after 2 years of Covid delays, that finally, I'll be able to set in motion end of this year


What was next? As for my ongoing trip back then, on the advice of multiple backpackers, I decided to ditch my earlier plan of traveling by road across to Cambodia (the original plan was to spend a week over there visiting Angkor Wat and other places), and instead I head back to Thailand (heading back to Bangkok by overnight bus and then followed by an overnight train to Krabi) and then spend a week at Krabi.

The week spent in Krabi was something of an entirely different experince - kayaking in the oceans & backwaters (and so much more), I guess that's material for another thread later. Here's a small trailer of what I was up to during the week spent there...

Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure-img_20190420_103258.jpg
Kayaking in the backwaters of Krabi...

Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure-img_20190420_104505.jpg
...passing through deep mangroves...

Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure-img_20190422_161740.jpg
...and then kayaking into the ocean...

Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure-img_20190420_101648.jpg
...while discovering hidden coves.

Thailand, beautiful Thailand, damn!! No matter how many times I head there and however much time I have spent there, I keep discovering new reasons to plan to go back again. Hopefully, I'll be able to figure out one more trip soon in the coming years!


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Fin.
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Last edited by ninjatalli : 28th November 2021 at 16:53.
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Old 29th November 2021, 05:14   #9
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Default Re: Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 29th November 2021, 06:35   #10
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Default Re: Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure

Awesome travelogue Ninja! Thank you for sharing

Laos was always on my bucket-list and back in 2018 I almost decided to travel there but considering the flights and logistics (at that time), changed the plan to Lombok, Indonesia. Hope to get to Laos one day, after the world gets normalized with the new normal.
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Old 29th November 2021, 07:12   #11
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Default Re: Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure

This thread made for an awesome read, ninjatalli.

We have a family friend from Laos, and I must admit owing to my ignorance, I hadn't heard of Laos before getting acquainted. Thanks to our friend we have had the opportunity to sample some fantastic Laos cuisine, so can imagine what what would have been on offer during your trip.

The relaxed vibe of the travelogue sure helped with some Monday morning inspiration.
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Old 29th November 2021, 07:59   #12
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Default Re: Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure

Nice to see someone else too is stoked about Laos. My younger sister has been working with Unicef in Laos for the last 3 years, and she too has nothing but praise about the country's natural and scenic beauty.
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Old 29th November 2021, 09:18   #13
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Default Re: Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure

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Originally Posted by KadiNiSikhiya View Post
Nice to see someone else too is stoked about Laos. My younger sister has been working with Unicef in Laos for the last 3 years, and she too has nothing but praise about the country's natural and scenic beauty.
Wonderful to hear this - I'm so happy to hear about your sister's work/efforts there! On a OT note how does one get to work in such roles - I would love to apply in the near future if they are open to people from diverse backgrounds.

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Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post
We have a family friend from Laos, and I must admit owing to my ignorance, I hadn't heard of Laos before getting acquainted. Thanks to our friend we have had the opportunity to sample some fantastic Laos cuisine, so can imagine what what would have been on offer during your trip.
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Hope to get to Laos one day, after the world gets normalized with the new normal.

Thanks, guys. And it's not only just different food, the people are so humble and so very different from what you get to see across South East Asia. For example, the Lao New Year (also known as Songkran) coincided with the end of my 3-week trip and I got to see a very very different way of celebrating the new year.



This is how Laotians celebrate the new year. Kind of a mix of road parades + holi + loud music + water play but in the nicest manner possible. The whole city comes to the street in all manners possible. People were split into two groups
- one that load up on their vehicles with all kinds of water play accessories
- one that create these islands of their domain with all constant water supply and music setups.

No one misbehaves and it's a beautiful camaraderie of enjoyment that happened right in front of me with men, women and kids of all ages joining in the fun! The new year celebrations continue for 3 days, with possibly other events organized on day 2 and 3 (which I missed as I headed out).
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Old 29th November 2021, 10:29   #14
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Default Re: Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure

Awesome, awesome, thanks so much for sharing! Great backpacking travelog on a lesser known (among us) destination! The best way to explore a new place- solo or just a couple of people, no fixed plan, stay at hostels, open to meeting fellow travellers and exchanging information, and open to experiencing life as it is in that country. Laos is on the list now! (Have been to Thailand and Cambodia, but somehow Laos never seems to figure on the list.)

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Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
On a OT note how does one get to work in such roles - I would love to apply in the near future if they are open to people from diverse backgrounds.
My wife worked with the UN in Sudan for a year. It's like applying for any other job online, through the UN Jobs portal. And it's not like they'll accept just any sort of volunteers, they're not short of manpower. Like any job, one needs qualifications and relevant work experience, and the selection process is long and thorough because there are obviously several qualified applicants from all over the world. But there are certainly chances to find something that matches your qualifications and work experience.

Last edited by am1m : 29th November 2021 at 10:32.
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Old 29th November 2021, 10:41   #15
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Default Re: Laos - A land-locked backpacking adventure

Wonderful travelogue and thanks for sharing. As someone stayed in the South East Asia region for a very long period, this bring back a lot of memories.

Whenever I heard about Laos, I used to remember a friend of ours who went on for a job at Laos and got bitten by some insects. In a few days time, things got complicated and eventually he passed away. He was only around 29/30 at that point of time. Till that day, none of us had even a clue that the insect bites can be fatal.

Regardless of those such incidents, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia etc are definitely worth to pay a visit once in a life time. Beautiful places, hospitable people and amazing food (if you like).
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