laos, part one

March 14, 2014

Where to begin? Laos was simply incredible. From the sprawling evening market to delicious roadside sandwiches and fresh juices to the magic of Mount Phousi (officially one of my favorite places now).

We didn’t have too much time in Laos, so rather than jump around, we stayed in Luang Prabang for the entirety. We did take a day trip – but more on that later.

In the evening, we’d stroll the city streets and witness first dates, groups of friends and families, enjoying dinner across restaurant patios that lined the streets. The Mekong River runs through Luang Prabang and to cross to the other side of the city, you have to walk over a rickety bamboo bridge. Once the sun sets, the bridge lights up and stands like a beacon.

On our first evening, we wandered through the evening market (we bought so many incredible gifts in Laos) and found ourselves in a cave of street food. Literally. It was incredible – the colors of each dish was more vibrant than the last. Friends gathered in groups – laughing and chatting as they enjoyed a heaping plate of food and Lao Beer.

Luang Prabang really struck a chord with me. I could have easily seen myself spending an extended period of time within its city walls. In fact, there are quite a number of expats. But from my point of view, they seemed to be rather intertwined with the locals, which isn’t always the case. Luang Prabang is well known for its buddhist culture and many tourists and locals wake early to witness the buddhist almes. At 5am, we arose in our sleepy bungalow by the river, hopped on our bikes, and rode into town. I’ll never forget that bike ride. The sun had yet to rise, and the air was cool yet humid. Southeast Asia is a bit frenetic – cars, pedestrians, cyclists, animals, and tuk tuks move in harmony. There are no street lights or “right of way”, but rather an understood rhythm. It’s kind of a beautiful thing to be a part of – the chaotic pattern that works. Quite honestly, we decided to go to the buddhist almes because it is something you do while in Luang Prabang. I wasn’t sure if we would feel uncomfortable or whatnot, but it was an incredible experience. It was especially heartwarming to see monks offer food to other monks.

Our guesthouse was a lot of fun. We opted to stay in a bungalow which had its own little deck overlooking the garden. The guesthouse sat a few miles outside of town and was a nice way to relax after walking around all day. Located directly on the river, you could relax down by the water or in the garden. The breakfast was incredible, too. In addition to fresh fruit, bread, homemade yogurt and juice, we had soup. Matt chose a chicken soup each morning. I had the egg drop soup. It was incredible. We also went to a small pizza place that is owned by an expat. The backyard restaurant is seriously romantic. You have to cross the bamboo bridge to get there and the yard is only lit by candle and flickering lights.

More to come.

PS. Just booked a late summer trip to France and Turkey. I’m on a serious travel kick right now.. or all the time. Where would you travel right now? Plus, any Turkey tips out there?

  • these photos are breathtaking. no wonder you are in love with laos.

    we honeymooned in istanbul, so that’s really the only place i know in turkey. but oh MAN… you’re going to love it. i know i did.

  • I love the picture of you on the bike!!! You should print and frame that one! xoxox

  • Wow this trip looks fantastic! Your photos are beautiful and it must be so cool to explore such an amazing culture. Also, I want to eat all the food!

    Just curious… how do you afford the time off from work to travel so much? I LOVE to travel but feel limited by the amount of vacation days my husband gets with his job. Is there some amazing life-hack that you have figured out? :)

  • these photos are stunning! the one of you on your bike and the bowls of food at the market are my favorite. southeast asia is so incredible – i wish it wasn’t so far. i think about going back so much! on another note, i will be very interested to see how your trip to turkey goes. my cousin just got engaged and might be getting married there (his fiancee is turkish). it’s never been high on my list of places to go but hopefully your adventures will convince me otherwise!

  • @alaina – thanks so much, lady. i’ll need to get all your istanbul tips!

    @laura – thanks so much! travel is my favorite thing so it is definitely a priority. i have pretty substantial vacation time at work (four weeks), but honestly we make it count. we often travel over holidays and extend work trips so we can see more!