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11. February 2018 00:02
by Rene Pallesen
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Fishing - Laos

11. February 2018 00:02 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

The fishing along the rivers in Laos are still very traditional.It is the circular throw out nets, f
The fishing along the rivers in Laos are still very traditional.

It is the circular throw out nets, fish traps and people foraging along the river banks to collect river seaweed and snails for eating.



In most places they still use dugout canoes for the fishing.





In the various town you see people sitting repairing their fishing nets.










Kim told us that when she was a little girl she used to help the family repair the fishing nets, but that she's forgotten how to do it.



One of the delicacies in Loang Prabang is the local riverweed. We saw multiple people collecting it and also sitting cleaning it.





11. February 2018 00:02
by Rene Pallesen
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Temples - Laos

11. February 2018 00:02 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

The temples in Luang Prabang are some of the most beautiful anywhere. Yes, Thailand has some amazing
The temples in Luang Prabang are some of the most beautiful anywhere. Yes, Thailand has some amazing temples, but these are different. They are smaller, and more intricately decorated.




























10. February 2018 23:02
by Rene Pallesen
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Luang Prabang - Laos

10. February 2018 23:02 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Luang Prabang is without a doubt the cultural highlight of Laos. The old part of the city is beautif
Luang Prabang is without a doubt the cultural highlight of Laos. The old part of the city is beautiful and there are good reasons why is has been heritage protected.

I believe it has the most beautiful temples of South East Asia - they are not the largest or even the oldest, but the amount of details that has been put into them is absolutely stunning.



In addition to this there are a lot of other very interesting things to see in and do in the city, which I will cover in later posts.

The city itself is situated between two rivers where one of them is the Mekong which is still fairly busy with slow boats and ferries (The chinese are building a large bridge across the river north of the city)





The section between the two rivers form the city itself which consist of four parallel streets each about a kilometer long.



Everything within the city itself can be covered on foot and in the evening the main streets are blocked for card and reserved for pedestrians.

The place is dominated by a big hill with a small temple and stuba on top. It is very popular with tourists to climb the hill around sunset. And there is a great view of the mountains from the top.







There are some things that have changed in the city since I was there the last time. The most noticeable is the amount of tourists and fine hotels - and here it is really the more wealthy middle aged Europeans you see. The main street of the old city is full of modern western European influenced restaurants, souvenir and antique stores.



Fortunately you don't have to travel further that to the parallel streets to fine more low key Laos places to eat.

Also, last time I visited, I stayed in a small guest house near the city centre called Tanoy Guest House. When I stayed here I became good friends with the family and the place was named after the oldest daughter who's name was Tanoy.

The place is still there and apart from a larger fence it looks pretty much unchanged.


31. January 2018 19:01
by Rene Pallesen
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A silent prayer - Laos

31. January 2018 19:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

At one of the caves in Laos there is this amazing Buddha statue inside the cave.I couldn't help but
At one of the caves in Laos there is this amazing Buddha statue inside the cave.

I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the diffused light was falling onto the statue itself and through the entrance to the cave. We were there all by ourselves and I asked Kim to sit and offer a little prayer in the ray of light coming in through the cave.

I didn't bring a tripod with me to Laos, so everything had to be shot handheld which was tricky as there wasn't much light there.

31. January 2018 19:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Vang Vieng - Watersports

31. January 2018 19:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

At Vang Vieng we did do some water sports. Again we were extremely lucky kayaking a section of the r
At Vang Vieng we did do some water sports.

Again we were extremely lucky kayaking a section of the river back to Vang Vieng and having the entire river to ourselves.




The three kids were all in a kayak with our guide sitting on top of their life jackets - fortunately they can all swim.



Kim and I was in one Kayak and Sacha and Mavis in another.





Just where we started out there was a rapid with water flowing over a large boulder but with plenty of flat water on the sides. Kim was little impressed when I headed straight into the rapids and with perfect skills paddled us through them...her being soaked and the kayak being full of water may have had something to do with it.



She's later said that the kayaking trip was one of her favourite and most fun activities on the trip, so maybe she was somewhat impressed with my brilliant paddling skills!!







Along the river are still some of the remains of the bars and zip lines - but all very quiet now.



Approaching Vang Vieng we went past some really scenic locations with bungalows etc.









The experience at the end got and all thumbs up!





Another water activity that Mavis and I did was tubing through one of the caves. You essentially sit in an inflated car tyre and then pull yourself along a rope inside a cave. It was fun for the kids, however this place was packed with Koreans trying to do the same thing.

Aiden initially didn't want to go, but I am proud that he eventually managed to get the courage to do so.



We also went to one of the lagoons. There are a number of them and some of them are very popular. We organised with a driver to drive us to one of the less popular ones. It was still scenic and it had platforms of the trees to jump from and you could see why some travelers would have killed themselves jumping off them.







There were also a couple of rafts which reminded me of the first time I went to Laos and paddles across a local river on a raft. It got on one of them in the lagoon and the whole thing literally sunk under me - I only just managed to get off in time before getting soaked.

The second one was able to hold my weight and I took the boys for a little paddle.

31. January 2018 19:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Vang Vieng - Kids highlights

31. January 2018 19:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Some of the other highlights for the kids in Vang Vieng was the gym at our hotel. The local guys use
Some of the other highlights for the kids in Vang Vieng was the gym at our hotel. The local guys used it to train for kick boxing and the kids felt inspired.






Also, one evening we spotted someone launching wishing lanterns. We asked where they came from and through a lot of pointing we found a local shop keeper selling them.

We bought one and launched it an the kids loved the experience.




Also, one of the trees at the hotel had two little monkeys staying there most of the day. The kids loved standing there shouting profanities at them.





31. January 2018 18:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Vang Vieng - Caves

31. January 2018 18:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

In Vang Vieng we also went to some caves. Again we were the only ones there - I don't know if this w
In Vang Vieng we also went to some caves. Again we were the only ones there - I don't know if this was just because no one else were interested or because we went there at a time when everyone else were doing other activities.

The caves are in fairly pristine condition, they are dark, moist and other than descending a makeshift ladder walking through them gives a feeling of exploring the caves for the very first time.





Some passages were really narrow






And other parts of the caves were massive.










Overall the caves are beautiful and again it was amazing having them to ourselves.











30. January 2018 21:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Tribes - Laos

30. January 2018 21:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

The tribes of Laos still exist although it is no longer as noticeable. They no longer wear their tra
The tribes of Laos still exist although it is no longer as noticeable.

They no longer wear their traditional costumes but it is possible to glimpse the occasional traditional head wear or dress in one of the shops.








It is especially sad to see the Hmong tribal wear gone as worn below by Mavis and Kim. The Hmong traditionally lived in the mountains. The government has forced them down into the lowlands where they can be controlled and 'integrated' into the the rest of Laos.




30. January 2018 20:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Vang Vieng Countryside - Laos

30. January 2018 20:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

On the first day in Vang Vieng we hired a local guide to take us through the country side and some o
On the first day in Vang Vieng we hired a local guide to take us through the country side and some of the villages around Vang Vieng.



Hiking through the countryside in Laos is partly magical and at the same time an eye opener. It is not until you get into the country side that you get a glimse of the real Laos and its people, the way of living and their beliefs.

Walking into the first village a group of boys came walking towards us. One of the kids was holding his head with blood dripping down his face. The other boys were taking him home to his parents. I couldn't help but notice that there was a green substance smeared across the wound and asked our guide is he knew what it was. He went over to some bushes and plucked a couple of leaves and said that if you crush them then they will help stop the bleeding. This is when you realise that a lot of the plants in the villages serve a purpose as natural herbal medicine or for eating.

The village was a HMong village and at one of the houses we spotted the little girl above standing in a door opening with her grand mother. There are very few of the traditional bamboo shacks still standing and instead being replaced with brick buildings.




A bit further up the road we heard a sound. Someone was hitting a gong and chanting. Thinking it might be a monk we went to investigate. The sound was coming from one of the local houses. At the back of the house the family was in the process of preparing food, but we couldn't see where the sound was coming from. Our guide asked them and was told that they had a newborn (possibly sick) child and that the Shaman was in the house talking to the 'other world to' attract the good spirits and chase the evil spirits away.



As we walked on we could see him through the opening of the door and I snapped the above photo which is one of my favourite photos of the trip.

In the village people go about their normal life such as this woman removing lice from her daughters hair.



As we walked on we had to walk through the local school. It happened to be recess and the kids in the smaller classes were outside playing.





There was a small stand selling them lunches who also sold lollies, so Kim got the idea to spoil the kids with lollies - but also turned out to be a great opportunity for our kids to interact and see what a classroom in Laos looks like.





The area is still very un-developed. Although there seems to be electricity, this is mainly used for lighting. Cooking is still done by collecting wood and done on wood fired stoves and people still wash their clothes in the rivers and streams.






Although there are still a number of water buffaloes these are mainly used for eating along with any other non-human living animal - such as pigs, dogs, birds etc.













It was very healthy for the boys to see where their food 'potentially' comes from and understand that this is part of life.

The area is full of rice paddies, but these are now worked with mechanical tools rather than buffaloes.






The government has built bridges across the large river to allow access to the villages.




But the smaller streams have bamboo bridges - in this case wide enough to drive a motorbike across, others just a single bamboo to allow a person walk across.




At the far village (Lao and not Hmong) there was a limestone cliff with a small cave in it. This was called elephant cave and inside there was a small shrine along with some bizarre images.







The whole area is spectacular - I can only imagine what it would be like during rice planting season - yes it would be muddy but also stunningly beautiful.














During this whole hike we saw no other travelers. Other than at the cave we didn't get a sense that there frequently came any groups through and I think the feedback from all of us was that this was one of the highlights of the trip - no adrenaline required.

30. January 2018 16:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Vang Vieng - Laos

30. January 2018 16:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Vang Vieng is an interesting tourism destination in Laos that has undergone several iterations of re
Vang Vieng is an interesting tourism destination in Laos that has undergone several iterations of re-inventing itself.



When I first visited for an overnight stopover it was a sleepy little town with maybe a handful of backpackers going tubing (more on that later).
I also remember the deserted airport runway from the 'secret war' going through the sleepy little village (Lima site 6) and the stunning mountain scenery in the background. Other than that there wasn't much there.



Ten years later my mum and dad visited the place and told me stories how the place had transformed. It had grown and was full of drunk backpackers with loud rave music and parties throughout the night. During the day they were floating down the river in car tubes again with beers and drinks in their hands.



Then again about 5 years ago, Laos appeared in the Australian news media with stories of young backpackers breaking their necks doing somersaults off the tree branches on the river and lagoons and hitting the rocks. Stories of high highly available drugs were also emerged.

The Lao government stepped in and closed the majority of the bars along the river, stopped the parties and the drugs and implemented a number of other safety restrictions.
It worked, the parties stopped and the young party seeking backpackers fled.

A new crowd has now moved in - this is bus loads of adrenaline seeking Koreans. They go there to go kayaking, zip lining, tubing, buggy riding etc. They eat at the Korean restaurants and stay at the same hotels, but otherwise mostly keep to themselves. This also means that some of the same old sleepy feeling has returned to this town. It also meant that is was easy (or just plain luck from our side) to avoid the tourists.

The airstrip is still there, but I recon most visitors would walk across it and not notice and definitely wouldn't know the history behind the secret war in Laos, let alone the American involvement and the little airstrips around the place. It is a fascinating story and has very much shaped Laos into what it is today.



The area is just absolutely stunning with steep limestone cliffs and rice paddies. I could easily have spent more time there taking photos in the surrounding area.