During our two-day Mekong slow boat cruise from Thailand to Laos, I found myself hypnotized by the waveless muddy waters and mountain jungles, and discovered that a slow boat rocks you to sleep just as good as any hammock. Here’s an entry on a journey into the green heart of Laos.
Getting to Laos is half the fun. The southeast Asian country was virtually closed off to tourism until the late 90s, and is just opening to the world. To cross into Laos, we traveled from Thailand by plane, bus, taxi, foot, and finally, a 2-day slow boat cruise on the Mekong to Luang Prabang, Laos.
Laos’s Bolaven Plateau is another world of waterfalls straight out of Jurassic Park, quiet village life, and the best coffee I’ve ever had. We drove into the plateau with a rented scooter that maxed out at about 30 km/hour, not really knowing where we were going or what we were going to see…and were rewarded with landscapes that reminded me of what the word “stunning” really means.
When I was in Laos last month, I drank A LOT of coffee. Well, I actually always drink a lot of coffee, so what I mean is that I drank a lot of really exceptional coffee. With the perfect geology and climate for coffee cultivation, Laos’s Bolaven Plateau produces some of the best beans in the world.
I got a recipe for the perfect pour over from a barista and coffee expert Jackie at Jhai Coffee House in Paksong, and I’m sharing it with you here…it’s changed my mornings forever!
During the Vietnam War, there was this entire Secret War going on in Laos that I learned about while I visited what is one of the world’s most beautiful – and unfortunately, most heavily bombed – countries. It got me thinking about what it means to travel as an American, especially at this political moment just weeks before Trump’s inauguration, to places like Laos, where they are still dealing with the legacy of destruction with millions of unexploded bombs littering the countryside.
No one ever talks about what it is like to land in a place like India for the first time. I had to write about this exhausting, disorienting, and totally thrilling experience. One thing is for sure: you only get to go to India for the first time once in your life.
No matter where you find yourself in the world these days, whether in the middle of the Ecuadorian rainforest, on a lonely mountain road in the Caucuses, a desert dune in the Sahara, or on a scuba boat in the Andaman Sea, chances are, you will cross paths with a German. And in many cases, a slightly-off-their-rocker but highly competent and well-prepared German eager to speak German with you as soon as they learn you live in Germany.
I’d never seen a sunset like this.
“We have a map,” the man at check-in to our backpacker bungalow hotel tells us, lowering his voice slightly, his tone conspiratorial. “A map to the secret beach. It’s not that easy to get there, but it’s not far.” Right, I have seen that movie. So has everyone else who goes to Thailand. I didn’t believe him until we followed the map to a perfect secret beach, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it. Continue reading “A Secret Beach”
Beaches. Island hopping. Kayaking. Snorkeling and Scuba diving. Visiting Buddhist temples. Monk chat. Night markets. Street Food. Elephant sanctuaries. Hiking. White-water rafting. Zip-lining through the jungle canopy. ATV tours. Massage. Exploring ancient cities. Whizzing through traffic on a scooter. Finding the perfect beach. The Kingdom of Thailand is the top destination in Southeast Asia, and for good reason.