The Fun is in the Getting There – Luang Prabang, Laos

The next day I boarded a small 8 passenger minibus that would take me to Luang Prabang. I was directed to sit in the front seat as I was the only one traveling alone. Part of my job was to periodically open the drivers water bottle and keep him hydrated for the 7 hour ride. The time flew by and I suppose that had something to do with the breathtaking landscape we were traversing.

We passed by more than a dozen tiny towns full of old wooden boxes houses with dirt floors. Majority of the people, old and young, were working at smashing bunches of long grass on the road repeatedly. At first I thought they were making the brooms I have been so used to using here in SE Asia. Then I began to think that this has something to do with rice…I am not sure but there was way too much of it to be all brooms. I felt a little ignorant that I didn’t know how rice is made but I resolved to find out.

Perhaps the thing that struck me most was the children. They were exceptionally beautiful. I couldn’t get enough of them and their rosy cheeks. I hoped that we would make a stop somewhere I would be able to have some interaction with them. One brave young toddler yelled and waved his arms in lighthearted defiance at our passing van. Our driver blasted his horn in response and scared the little guy practically out of his skin.

We stopped at the top of one mountain at a remote makeshift restaurant that was obviously a family home. Our driver popped out of the van and motioned to us that we had 15 minutes. He was obviously expected as the small thin woman quickly laid out a veritable feast for him.

I followed suit and ordered some vegetable dish which infact, turned out to be one of the best I have had yet. I suspect that the greens were plucked from her garden minutes before hitting the pan. And whatever the sauce was, it was perfectly seasoned which is tough to do for a picky salt lover as myself.

My favorite part of this journey so far was the interaction that I had with the children at this short but sweet rest stop. They were two girls about three and six with the rosiest cheeks I have ever seen. Shy but curious they peered out at us slowly sneaking closer and closer. I was able to tempt them with a few sparkly stickers which I stuck on the tops of their hands. Just when you think their gorgeous brown eyes couldn’t get any bigger, they did. Suddenly I was their new friend and to be honest, I couldn’t get enough of them. I was the last one back to the van after having dragged out my goodbyes to this charming little family as long as possible.

Finally we arrived in Luang Prabang which was not as beautiful as I had expected it to be. Maybe because it is a UNESCO world heritage site I thought it would be much more…majestic. But it was kind of more geared towards history and architecture. I guess I left the magical nature behind in Vang Vieng.

Grateful for chance encounters.

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