Goodbye Laos – A last road trip (Tha Khaek Loop)

actually its more like 2 roadtrips…but who cares right?
I could tell you i climbed the mount everest post a few pictures of snow and fog and you would believe me.
You know in fact i am sitting in front of a giant green screen in New York, Germany and didn’t move for 8++ month…

I have no idea how this came out of me right now

Hitchhiking from Luang Prabang to Tha Khaek:
We won by one day…and actually hitchhiking
But that doesn’t matter at all, because hitchhiking competitions are like rolling a dice and getting certain number combinations first…what thats a game? Never mind then.
We were extremely lucky…like rolling a Yatzee 5x in a row.
The longest we waited was 10min and nobody ever asked us to pay anything, the opposite we were invited for food twice and i was forced to drink once…well i sacrificed myself for the competition…but to explain to a chinese couple that doesn’t speak 10 words of english, that you don’t eat meat and don’t drink alcohol, when they invite you for food, is both difficult and disrespectful in my set of reality.

Anyhow we got to our goal in 3 Hitchiking and 4 real days.
By the way – if you need an international drivers license GET IT AT HOME!!! At least if you are German…

In ThaKhaek we had to walk about 2km into the city, and then slept in some roadside motel because it was getting stormy…like real stormy (see the pictures)

Hitchhiking works really good though…maybe i will enhance the hitchwiki regarding this topic

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The Day after arriving in our destination, we found Gemma the Italian girl and decided to do the THA KHAEK – Motorcycle Loop.
We rented 2 bikes, the chinese ones are totally enough, even though the modern ones look cooler.
And drove about 500 Km in 3.5 days….a lot of fun! and dirt! and a burned spot on my leg (i totally forgot, that the exhaust is flamin hot after driving and leaned against my bike…stupid Ole!) and Sticky Rice

There is so much i could talk about now
Lets stick with a short version 😉
We went around the loop clock-wise
1) Blue Lagoon – very nice, but the road is quite hard
green/blue milky water that comes fresh from an underwater spring
(5000 LKip)
2) Konglor Cave – Huge…no seriously…this cave is 7.something km long and, i think i start repeating myself, huge. Bring a good flashligh!
(100,000 Lkip/boat for 3 + 5000LKip/person)
3)Sleeping on the other side of the cave in Ban Nathane
Very beautiful home stay, they fixed my machete, we played a lot of cards with the kids, maybe you can teach them a new game when you go there.
But when we got back to the boatplace we had, after about 2h of fighting, to pay again.
We put up a sign that says it now, please look if it is still there (which i strongly doubt)
4)MangKone Cave, free entry (for us)
looks like a sight seeing spot from communist times, beautiful though
bring powerful flashlights and don’t be afraid of mud if you go in the main cave…the side cave has some old buddha statues, it is like in a dream
5) The Terrible road, we were lucky, it was only dirty, and that because i took every pothole i could possibly find to make our bike (and my shoes for that matter) look like a little adventure. Not to bad…
If you reach the Dead Lake, you know it’s almost over…and you reached a very nice picture spot….or if you come counterclock-wise you know its going to become worse
Sleep at Sawatdee guesthouse…ignore what possible commissioners told you 🙂
6)Tha Falang
a place to take a bath yes, but not as nice as you would wish
there are pointy rocks in the middle, on which you can stand (if you find them in the milky water)
7) a small cave on the way about 10km away from ThaKhaek
Xang cave possibly
10000/per person for a guide who is going to show you a very beautiful biiig cave that you won’t expect…a nice place to swim (more beautiful than Tha Falang)

Thats it, if you do the loop, you will probably start at 7 and go to 1, but the other way is nice too.

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Some words concerning freedom:
My mother asked my to realize that i am free.
I tried, but i in fact realized something else.
I am free, you would say. I am touring around where ever i want, going to places that are beautiful. Doing things i like.
But i don’t feel much more free than you…or less.
Everybody is free, it is the limits we set ourselves.
I have an appointment on the 14th of june, which stresses me out a little bit. I have Visas and other deadlines that push me
I have a goal: to travel around the world.
With this this goal there are responsibilities and limitations that arise completely by its self.
You have Goals too:
Finish you bachelor, make a game, build a house, find a partner, finish your education or what ever it is that you want to achieve.
With this goal you yourself put those limitations on yourself.
You are as free as you want to be!
So long Ole

p.s. Laos is a beautiful quiet slowmotion country.
Chinese money is eventually going to “ruin” it from my point of view.
Food: Noodlesoup (Föh)
Sticky rice (Kao niau)
words:hello- Sabaidee
thank you -khop jai
no- bo
how much-taorai
no meat – bo sai seen
no have money – bo mee ngoen

Nong Kiaw+Muang Noi – Welcome to the Jungle

After PeeMai (thai: Songkran) I found some travel companions other than my backpack. A Kiwi couple Sanji and Catelyn (People from New Zealand), One Italian girl (Gemma) and one Dutch girl(Roos). So we were a colorful mix 🙂 We made our way by bus to Nong Kiaw. It is a beautiful “city” in midst of huge limestone walls, the Nam Ou river and Jungle where ever you look. We decided to camp near the river, which was a nice thing to do, if it wasn’t for the rain in the night…but my huge backpack includes a big tarp, so we got out dry after all 😉

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After 2 nights we went on to Muang Noi, a serene place that is only reachable by boat and was supposed not to have any electricity…but we arrived one week late.
Chinese money and a mass of seasonal tourists slowly modernize the country.
At least there was no Internet…yet.
One night and two all you can eat buffets later we started a supposedly easy one-day-trek to the next small village Ban HoySien , that really did not have electricity yet (at least only self produced)
On our way there we got to know about a tribal village that was “only” 3h trek after HoySien.
There we asked the guest house owner for the way and got a really confusing description that got us almost killed… am i exagerating? A little maybe. But if we did not have a guardian angel in the form of a local hunter appear to us, we would have walked straight into…..Damn, i almost took away the suspension.
We only saw what was coming after one more hour of walking, but i cannot make you read for one hour, can i?
The Hunter told us with an relieved face (relieved that he found us) , that the Village we were looking for was the other direction.
When we were asking what was in the way we were going he made a motion with his hands and said something like “Fire-fire” and “No-No”
We just trusted his directions and walked back, almost lost our path again and then we saw the other side of the valley lit up in flames.
It was the biggest fire i have ever seen…by far. I think the flames were about 7-8 meters high, and covered a huge area!

After we recovered from this shock, we went on…to find ourselves in the next tricky situation.
You probably know how the Lonly Planet advertises it can get you “off the beaten track” well we were literally looking for it…there was just no pathway anymore. Leeches were everywhere, crawling through the holes made for shoe laces…brrr
but we found a promising path after wading through 50m of creek…and it seemed to be the right.
We were so relieved when a Tribe couple came along this path to tell us we were back on track.
But soon our water reserves, which were not planned for a 5h but for a 3h trek, were exausted. That’s when our second guardian angel appeared, he brought us all the way to the Kamu-village showed us a small creek to refill the water (no i did not get sick from it…and it was better than dying of thirst 😉 )

The Village Ban KiuKaan is a barren, a little bit depressing place.
Everything is done for survival, the men are hunters, the women collect bamboo.
It is self-sufficient, but its not an easy life on top of the mountain.
But the children develop games anyways, with what ever they have, in this case two big flat round seeds…for a game at which i am not very good at 😀
I tried my best.
The next day we walked to Ban Hatsepui, a long but easy trek, we were really relieved after all this walking in the sun with about 39 degrees to see the Nam Ou.
Ban Hatsepui is a much more happy place, the grounds seem to be fertile, the river is directly adjacent and the children have an open smile on their faces. In short it was way easier to get integrated in the children’s activities, then in the Kamu-village. They actually invited us to play their games.
Finding a stone on the rocky riverbed, that is thrown in again and again (wow these kiddies are fabulous swimmers…butterfly, freestyle etc. with 8 years) or shooting slingshots at supposedly impossible targets.
Games i guess, that will help in later life…but so easygoing.
I really enjoyed this village. Teaching them cardgames, juggling, getting shown around in town, painting fingernails, running around etc. just having a lot of fun together.
And the Adults watched happily somebody is finally powering out their children 😀
Then we took the morning boat back to Muang Noi, and relaxed there for a few days.
And the rainy season started….but thats stuff for the next entry 😛

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Now our group splitt, me and Roos have a hitchhiking competition with the other three. Who can reach Tachek first…bad only that it seems to be raining every day 😕
we will see
So long Ole

Water! – Mekong and Buddist New Year

Wow the last few days were so rich of events…could you even say that? “rich of” or “poor of” events? Anyhow you get the point, i crossed the Thai-Laos boarder, i slept i a dodgy guesthouse in a boarder town (Muang Ngoen…or something like this 😀 from Nan to Pakbeng)…had a amazing busride through the mountains of northern laos, saw a lot of burned hill sides, took a very old looking ferry over the Mekong and spend the night in Pakbeng…a very strange place.
I arrived around 2pm and the little town or big village was like a ghost town…almost nobody was around all the restaurants seemed pointless, as they were closed anyhow…but the boats arrived at 6 and it broke loose a massive change in the village.
It was a strange experience to see the 2 faces of such a touristic place.
But i can not say this often enough:
I can totally understand all the tourists, as i am one myself, because it is really beautiful! The only important thing is the mentality of the tourists. Do they try to adapt to the country they are in, or if they are bringing their own country with them.

The Next day i took a “slow” boat to Luang Prabang for the buddhist new year celebration.
The Mekong is amazingly beautiful…white sand beaches next to the river, lush jungle behind it and sparkles of bamboo huts that simmer through the leaves. And the traditional long fisher boats…WOW
The only downpoint is all the trash that floats in the middle…styrofoam, plastic, burned woods from all the forest fires (which i still haven’t decided if i can like them or not 🙂 ) and other unidentifiable stuff…that makes me not take a bath on one of these beaches 😉

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When we finally arrived after 7h sitting on the floor in the back (i don’t know what crazy voice in my head told me that i will be more relaxed in the back than on the comfortable seat i was sitting on first 😀 )
There was a big confusion, because instead of taking us to Luang Prabang they took us to a station about 5km before…obviously they had some kind of deal with the TukTuk drivers 🙂 tss..
Ole decided to walk…after 5 minutes a i was able to hitchhike…sometimes you just have to take a dare.
While sitting on the back of the Pickup i had the first experience why the New Year here is called water festival 😀
My driver stopped at every place on the street with people standing and the soaked me completely 😀
It was such a nice and liberating feeling. Everybody was smiling and dancing on the street…and it still continues…loud musik everywhere, lots of beer, water and foodcolor 😀 but please, see for yourself 😉

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I decided not to write anything about my plans anymore, because everytime i do that, something happens, that makes me change them completely! 😀 Which is not necessarily a bad thing…
“If you want to make destiny laugh, tell it your plans”

So Long Ole

p.s. i am so sorry for the felt 100pictures, but i just could not decide which one i did not want to share with you 🙂

p.p.s. As always, thank you for reading, and please feel free to comment and ask crazy questions, i don’t bite (at least not if i don’t know you that well 😉 )