Laos, Vietnam · 20 Days · 16 Moments · August 2017

Southeast Asia

31 August 2017

After seeing the Cu Chi tunnels, it is easy to understand why the Americans didn't stand a chance in the Vietnam war. We got the chance to climb into one of the original, tiny tunnels and learned about traps. We also went into a tunnel ourselves for a hundred meters. It had been widened for tourists, but we still had to crawl in places.

30 August 2017

After arriving early in the morning in Ho Chi Min City, we went to the War Remnants Museum to learn about the Vietnam war. After a serious morning, we spent the afternoon relaxing in a cat cafe.

27 August 2017

Jungle Beach was a perfect break from the cities we had been visiting. We stayed for three days, relaxing in hammocks and going swimming to escape the heat. At night, we had bonfires on the beach and went swimming in the bioluminescence. Blue lights lit up as we moved, like fireflies in the water. It was stunning!

26 August 2017

My Son is a stunning temple ruin in the middle of the jungle, near Hoi An. Unfortunately, it was raining heavily when we got there, but it was still a great place to explore. The ruins are quite well preserved (except those that got bombed during the war) since the builders used special bricks and mortar. The bricks do not get wet and no grass or moss grows on the mortar. Until today, it remains a mystery of how it was done.

24 August 2017

We got out first glimpse of the old town of Hoi An in the evening, when the city becomes alight with lanterns. It was beautiful! We returned the next day to see the city by daylight and to explore the old buildings and see a song and dance performance.
In between Hue and Hoi An, we stopped at Marble Mountain near Da Nang. Not having heard anything about it, we didn't expect much and were pleasently surprised. The temple on top of the mountain as well as the marble statues were stunning.

23 August 2017

We went for a deagon boat trip along Perfume River. Our first stop was a garden house, before visiting Thien Mu pagoda and a temple. After lunch, we switched to a bus and went to see three ancient tombs as well as a demonstration of how to make incense sticks.

21 August 2017

On our first day in Hué, we went to visit the Citadel. The Forbidden City, which used to be the king's residence, was huge and we spent half a day exploring the different buildings and gardens before going back to the hotel by rickshaw.

20 August 2017

Sleepy Savannakhet was an overnight stop on the way to Vietnam. We had burgers, went to look at the night market and then enjoyed smoothies on our rooftop terrace before leaving for Vietnam the next day.

19 August 2017

Our last stop in Laos was Konglor Cave, hidden in the countryside of Laos. We stayed in a nice hotel with bungalows on stilts overlooking the river before taking tuk-tuks to the cave the next day. Konglor Cave is seven kilometers long. We took boats on the river inside, going from one end of the cave to the other. The cave is narrow in places and huge in others, up to a hundred meters wide and high. We took a short break on the other side of the mountains before going back on the river.

17 August 2017

We started our day by visiting Pha That Lunga, a giant golden stupa that is currently undergoing renovation and being re-painted in a golden colour. More interesting than the stupa were the elaborately decorated buildings next to it, where we saw Buddha statues and chanting monks. After lunch at the Skandinavian bakery, we made our way to Wat Si Saket and Haw Phra Kaew, two temples in the centre of Vientiane. We went inside, walked around and then continued on to the COPE Visitor Centre. The COPE Centre is well worth a visit. Often overlooked by the rest of the world, Laos is the most heavily bombed country worldwide. Estimates assume that almost 80 milion unexploded bombs are still lying in the countryside, waiting to explode when discovered by playing children or farmers.

16 August 2017

After a long drive to Vientiane, we went to get dinner at the Night Market. It turns out that egg and chocolate is a good combination on a crepe, the crickets were cooked in fish sauce and it was some kind of spicy mashed fish inside the banana leaf. We had good meat on a stick, an amazing laotian sausage, rice and egg on a stick and fresh spring rolls.

15 August 2017

We hired a minivan to go to the Kuank Si waterfall today. The water cascaded from one pool to another and we took our time going up, taking plenty of pictures along the way. Finally, we climbed to the top. Up there, we had an amazing view of the waterfall disappearing in the jungle. Someone had attached a swing to a tree above the pools so we spent some time swimming and swinging just above the water.

14 August 2017

We took a cooking class at the Tamarind Restaurant today. First, we went on a market tour where we learned about the local ingredients. Then, we drove to the outside kitchen and started cooking. The first dish we prepared was jeow, a spicy dipping sauce. We did one tomato and one eggplant version before getting started on fish wrapped in banana leaves. Then we made little baskets out of lemongrass and stuffed them with chicken. Our final savoury dish was lahrb, a minced buffalo salad. After eating lunch, we cooked purple sticky rice in sweet coconut milk and ate it with local fruit.

13 August 2017

We spent the day walking around town. After a stroll along the river, we stopped at a very golden and sparkly temple. We found out that the night market serves amazing lunch and then went on to see the most ugly palace ever. Who would put Scandinavian furniture from the 50s inside a Laotian palace? Our last stop was Phou Si, the hill from where we had an amazing view of the town.

11 August 2017

We went kayaking in Luang Namtha. The river was fast-flowing and tame at first, but quickly showed its wild side with some crazy rapids. Jack and Darren (who barely paddled because he was too hungover) were the first to capsize when their kayak wrapped arou d a tree. They were followed by Jess and Shannon, who got stuck on a huge rock. We had lunch on the river bank, served on a banana leaf. Afterwards, we visited the village of Sopsinh.