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How Laos Won My Heart in 2016

How Laos Won My Heart in 2016 | Always A Foreigner

Caren and Cazzie

Hi, We're Caren and Cazzie and we're Always A Foreigner. Welcome to our travel blog! We hope you find it useful. We love waterfalls, street eats, and anything to do with travel and adventure. We met while volunteering in India, and since then have made it our goal to travel to as many places as we can. Join us on our journey!

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How Laos Won My Heart in 2016

 

how laos won my heart

In the year of 2016, Laos was my all-time favorite place visited. Without question, my heart was stolen by this wonderful little country sandwiched between China, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The reasons are endless, but Laos won my affection and captured my love. It’s one of the places that we’re both dying to spend more time in, and hoping to make it back as soon as we possibly can. Located in Southeast Asia, it sometimes gets passed by for being landlocked, but it is definitely worth a visit! Laos only opened their doors to tourism recently, which made the culture and people some of the most genuine we’ve encountered.

 

The Streets of Luang Prabang

 

I could spend hours just wandering the streets of Luang Prabang in Laos…and I did just that while I was there! Once the capital of the Laos kingdom, it fell under French control for the 19th and 20th centuries. Luang Prabang is the perfect mix of traditional Laos architecture and culture, mixed with French influence. The cobblestone streets and French colonial building facades lead into jungle monasteries and countless Wats. Hike up Mount Phou si  to find two beautiful Wats overlooking the city.

 

Night Market in Luang Prabang

Sabadee shoppers! If you want to shop until you drop, here is your place. Friendly local artisans gather here at this low-key marketplace to sell their items. Some are touristy souvenirs, but some are handcrafted beautiful pieces of art. Half the fun of the market is everyone calling out to you, but it has a much less commercialized feel to it than other night markets.

Sandwiches in Luang Prabang

The perfect sandwich is hard to beat, and until Laos I had not had a good sandwich while traveling. And this wasn’t for lack of trying! Right in the main square of Luang Prabang each day, there are many different crepe, smoothie, and sandwich stands that pop up. If you are craving a sandwich while on the road, definitely try these out. The oreo-banana smoothie is a must try too!

 

Kuang Si Waterfalls

 

Spend the whole day here if you can because you won’t be able to get enough. This was one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. The turquoise blue waters will steal your breath away, and the cascade at the top is amazing. Definitely bring a towel and swimsuit, as swimming is permitted. Check out this post for more details.

Nong Khiaw

Not the easiest destination to get to, but one of the most peaceful. We made the 4-hour very bumpy bus ride to Nong Khiaw in hopes of limestone karsts and I would say we found them! Looking like the jaw of a giant stone animal, the karsts tower over the sleepy river below. They truly create a magnificent scene. We stayed on the river with the karsts jutting into the air around us. The sunset was magical. Hike up a karst at the entrance that originates off the main road. Don’t step off the path though as this was an area of heavy bombing throughout the Vietnam War.Laos

Laos Culture

Most likely due to the fact that Lao only recently opened its borders to tourism, the people here are some of the friendliest and most authentic that you will meet. Nong Khaiw especially had wonderful people that were full of smiles. Head over to the Karaoke restaurant (that may or may not have karaoke) for a meal from a great local man. He’s the one man show that does it all. As many places in Southeast Asia that we encountered, the restaurant is attached to his home and he cooks, takes your order, makes your drinks, and lounges watching TV all in the same place. Time moves slower in Laos, and we waited a decent amount for our food. It was delicious and traditional when it did come though, so it was all made worth it.

 

Lao-Lao Whiskey

Hold onto your hats folks, because this is some strong stuff! This is a locally made rice whiskey that is generally made by different villages for a form of revenue. It’s dirt cheap, and you can mix it with almost anything. Lemonade is my favorite, as the heat in Laos means you’ll always be looking for something refreshing.

 

 

 

 

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It started with the news that Trump has significantly reduced the amount of land in two national monuments. While I'm not from Utah, and have never been, my heart is still heavy with the news that big government and business once again triumphs over preserving land and sacred history.
Right after that, the news changed to announce renewed RNC support for Roy Moore...which just has me asking why and how our nation has come to this point. 
And then to top it all off, I got a call from the auto shop saying that my car is essentially falling apart, to the tune of an expensive repair. 
It's days like this where remembering past adventures get me through. And thinking about how someone thought to spruce up an old barn with simple paintings of sunflowers just to make the world a little brighter....that makes me feel a little better.
To whoever painted this barn on a barely used country road, I thank you. You're the reason I'm smiling today. .
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This last Saturday, we drove past the parking area and to our surprise...there was absolutely no one there. 
We sat on the rocks under the falls, listening to the water crash, and enjoyed the serenity of a place so normally overrun, completely by ourselves. 
It seems that after the leaves fall from their branches, no one wants to venture outside. 
I think that's okay with me though. Because we plan on enjoying it anyways. .
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It can be easy to forget those things throughout the hustle and stresses of every day life...but this week it's easy to remember. 
I'm thankful for so many things. I'm thankful for these mountains, and even more so for Cazzie, who is willing to drop everything every weekend to explore them with me. I'm thankful for friends and family, and for the kilbasa and sauerkraut that will be in abundance at my family's Thanksgiving feast. And last but not least, I'm thankful that we live in a crazy beautiful world. 
Even though thanksgiving isn't until Thursday, I think it's important to drag this feeling of thankfulness out as long as possible...because who ever said a little bit of joy inserted into our daily lives was a bad thing? .
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