As soon as Stephen told me he would be visiting Southeast Asia, I knew that I would have to take him to my favorite spot on this side of the world: Luang Prabang.
We have been here for three days, doing the usual tourist stuff: visiting centuries-old temples and eating lots of Lao food. We also took a boat up the Mekong to visit the Pak Ou caves along with the "Whiskey Making Village" and the "Weaving and Paper-Making Village". As I expected, the two villages had been transformed from traditional small Lao villages into tourist attractions, with the usual shlock for sale. It was a complete waste of time.
But today, on my 8th trip to Luang Prabang, we had a true "Lao" experience that I have never had before. We signed up for a 7 hour trek / hike through the jungle to visit two Kamu Hilltribe villages and the beautiful Kroung Sri Waterfall.
When we started the hike, the air was nice and cool and the trail was wide and flat. I jokingly pointed to a tall mountain nearby and asked our guide if we were going to go to the top. He said yes and I laughed. An hour later, I was sweating, not laughing, as the trail turned very steep. Sure enough, we went to the very top and up and over it into the next valley.
The villages we visited were true, untouched Kamu villages. Our tour guide (a 20 year old Lao boy named Tong) was also Kamu, so he was able to translate for us as we chatted with the locals a bit.
Eventually we reached the waterfall, hot, sweaty, and very tired. But apparently we hadn't worked out enough, as Stephen and I immediately climbed to the very top of the waterfall. By the time we reached the bottom again, I had definitely had enough!
There's nothing better after a long, hot hike than a quick swim in a chilly waterfall, and that's exactly what we did. We didn't stay in long (it was really cold) but it was a refreshing dip.
So, that was the highlight of Luang Prabang Trip #8. I can hardly wait to come back again!