I passed through the Nong Khai border (Thailand) and rode through the friendship bridge into Laos. The first thing I had to take note of was the change in traffic rules, as henceforth I had to ride on the right hand side. I rode into the capital city Vientiane and it was pretty easy to navigate through the traffic. The first thing that struck me was the laid back attitude of people. They are happy and are quiet content in life. There is no hurry in anything and at times it can get really annoying.
Laos has been a great country, it’s a beauty waiting to be discovered. The landscape took me off guard as I entered on an assumption that it would be similar to Northern Thailand. It proved to be a completely different topography. Unfortunately the Laos trip was majorly a wash out for me due to the consistent downpour. Although the one thing I will always relish is the sandwiches. I say this because being a vegetarian, it was very tough for me to track down street vendors serving vegetarian food in Thailand. In Laos sandwiches are everywhere and they are mouth watering and the night markets are the best place to relish them.
I did manage to spend some time in Luang Prabang which is located in the Central Northern province. These towns come to life very slowly, as you can see just a few people on the streets in the early morning. If you are an active person you need a lot of motivation. The Kuangsi waterfall is a must see. Although I have seen waterfalls in different parts of India, this was truly one of the most breathtaking one with its clear and cascading streams. Laos boasts a number of caves and waterfalls in the countryside. The town is also known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. The alms giving ceremony is truly a custom that is being followed since the 14th century. We woke up at 4:30 am to ensure we wouldn’t miss it. We watched numerous monks from different monasteries collect alms from the local people who had risen early to cook their staple, sticky rice. This truly showed the reverence the people had towards the monks who sacrificed their materialistic life.
Vang Vieng is perfect for chilling out and you really don’t need to make any big plans ahead of time as you can do many outdoor activities. Central and South Laos can offer amazing off-roading experiences. In fact the infrastructure is improving and there are more roads that are being done up. Couple of interesting loops that can be explored are the Thakhek loop and the Pakse loop. I was in the Thakhek area and spent time in Konglor Cave. Just a forewarning though, it’s a fairly long drive to Konglor Cave from Vientiane and the road is bumpy! However, every bump is worth it for the spectacular views on the drive into Kong Lor village. I couldn’t help but be taken in by the Karst mountains (a signature of southern Laos) towering around me in all directions, and hidden amongst them was the tiny village of Kong Lor with fields stretching as far as the eye could see. The renowned Kong Lor cave is a monstrous long natural wonder discovered by a duck (true story!).
My next destination in Southern Laos was the laidback 4000 Islands, where the island of choice was Don Det. Before reaching Don Det, I spent the night in Champasak, a small village which has the UNESCO World Heritage site designation. Vat Phou, a temple built before the mighty Angkor Wat by the same Khmer people stands high on the mountainside overlooking the neighbouring village. A key feature is the distinctive animal carvings in the surrounding rocks as the temple was originally built to worship the Hindu Gods before Buddhism took over.
I met travellers who were raving about Luang Namtha in the North, which I couldn’t visit. Laos the ‘forgotten country’ as they call it, maybe forgotten in the vast industry of commercial tourism, but for me it will remain a country that I will remember for a long time and I am sure will return to.
My actual plan of riding into Vietnam from Laos did not pan out as unfortunately they did not allow me to cross with the bike as there is a restriction
Warrier's Trail is a crazy dream of a simple guy that was inspired by a desire to travel, meeting people, see places and live life full of uncertainty.
The dream is to travel 40 countries, in over 500 odd days in 5 regions (S.E.Asia, Australia, Middle East, Europe & Africa)
A journey of exploration!