4/24/18: Chilling In The Mountains: Nong Khiaw, Laos

I had breakfast at the guesthouse (a simple veggie noodle soup), and packed up. Falko, Mateus, Adrian, and I were leaving for Nong Khiaw at 8:30 am.

I heard Falko asking our receptionist if he could change his bus from the morning to afternoon, and I asked him why he wanted to change. He told me he was having stomach issues and wasn’t sure if he could handle a three-hour bus ride.

Suddenly, Falko’s stomach issues turned into this whole thing of us trying to decide if we should all stay behind with him, if he should stay back alone, or if just one or two of us should stay behind. In the end, Mateus ended up staying behind in Luang Prabang with him, and Adrian came with me on the morning bus.

We got in a minivan, which took us to the bus station. The bus station workers then issued us bus tickets and we got in a van.

We were on our way around 9:30.

At 10, I noticed that we were slowing down but I didn’t know what was wrong. The bus driver pulled into a car shop, and we all got off the bus. At first, I thought our tire was flat because they removed the back tire, but then I realized it wasn’t just a flat tire. It was taking too long for such a simple fix. One guy who was on the bus with me, Tim, told me that the brakes were broken and they needed to be replaced.

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The repair shop
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Our van

I remembered what I had read in Power of Now, to use moments of waiting as an opportunity to be intensely present rather than an excuse to just sit there and complain or think mindlessly.

I closed my eyes, scanned my body to get in touch with how I felt, then tried to stay focused on the present for as long as possible.

After I was satisfied with my present-moment-awareness exercise, I walked around for a bit, talked with Adrian and Tim (a Belgian guy on the bus), and then ate some of the fresh spring rolls I had left over from the day before.

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Behind the shop
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Laundry?

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Brakes fixed, we were back on the road two hours later. I then proceeded to go on one of the scariest bus rides of my life. The driver was CRAZY: speeding over bumps, not stopping before sharp turns, sending us all flying toward the ceiling several times. I honestly thought I was going to die.

We somehow made it to Nong Khiaw in one piece at 1:30 pm. We didn’t have anywhere booked yet, so we followed Tim to his guesthouse because it was one of the ones we had looked at online, and it seemed pretty nice.

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View from the bungalow

We got a bungalow at Ban Lao Sunset for 60,000 kip ($7) each, put our stuff down, and then walked with Tim to get lunch. We went to Chennai, an Indian place just up the road. I got spinach/pea curry and rice, plus a banana/pineapple smoothie. The food was good but the smoothie was a bit too watery.

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We went back to the hostel and changed before heading to the Phadeng Peak.

We thought it would be a simple walk, but it turned out to be an intense hike.

20 minutes into the steep uphill climb, we were all drenched in sweat. I really was not expecting to sweat as much as I did.

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Crazy tree
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This made me laugh
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Tim

After the first bit of climbing, we entered a jungle. It had CRAZZYYY loud and bizarre sounds of the insects and birds. Some of the sounds sounded totally unnatural, like a chainsaw.

We walked through a bamboo forest before finally reaching the peak an hour later, completely tired and sweaty AF.

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It was pretty hazy out

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Tim settling down

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We chilled on the peak for an hour or so before climbing back down.

Adrian had gone back down a bit before Tim and I, and when we got back to the bungalows we saw that Adrian had bought us all beer. It was such a pleasant surprise!

We sat on our patios, chilling in the hammocks, sipping our beers until we were hungry. Ah, the hammock life is honestly so amazing.

We tried to go to Coco Home, a restaurant across the river that I had heard is really good, but it was closed. We instead ate at Joy’s, a restaurant right by the river. I got green curry, which was pretty good but nothing amazing.

I went to bed pretty much right after dinner.

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