Impromptu Birthday Party with Random Strangers – Luang Prabang, Laos

I was tickled pink to have made her acquaintance because Melbourne native Jules and I seemed to be cut from the same fabric. Initially, we were going to rent motorbikes and ride their ourselves but we were accosted by a boatman. He convinced us that it would be much more fun and cost efficient to let him take us there. After some gentle negotiation, we agreed to his offer. When we crawled into the long wooden boat, we were greeted by a five-some of young and beautiful Brits.

We made our introductions and learned that we all led quite interesting lives. I shared my cherimoyas with the group as we cruised down the Mekong River admiring the landscapes. A couple of them climbed onto the roof while a few others documented our adventure with their cameras. As we visited and got to know my new mates, I congratulated myself on having conjuring up such a fascinating group to hang out with for my special day.

After about an hour on the boat, we transferred to a tuk tuk (really just the back of a pickup truck) for the remaining 15 minutes. The cheeky driver made a quick stop at what looked like his families house and brought out some moonshine. After passing it around and the boys partaking, I was glad to have declined. After only two sips their eyes seemed to go bloodshot! What was in that stuff?

We finally arrived to the waterfalls and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t overrun with tourists. Don’t get me wrong, the infrastructure is certainly there but we must have chosen a slower day or at least hit a lull. We visited the Bear Sanctuary and watched the roly-poly bundles of black fur search out their lunch. The keepers had hidden pieces of fruit all over the compound in some of the strangest places but the bears were privy to all of them.

After having our fill of the animals, we headed on to the waterfalls. We were all astonished at the surreal glowing turquoise pool and it didn’t take us long before we all stripped down to our swimwear. The water was a tad chilly but after about 2 minutes, it was fine. We splashed about and watched the dragon flies flutter around us. We marveled at the giant tree anchored right in the middle of the pool whose mystical roots looked like they may come alive at any minute. All of us agreed that this was the stuff of what fairytales were made of.

A short time later, we ventured up the trail and lo and behold, there were more falls…and more and MORE! Until finally, we hit the big one. It took my breath away and I couldn’t stop grinning at my fortune to have *this* as my birthday setting. Looking way way up you could see water cascading over dozens of cliff stages finally traveling all the way down to us. I just stared in awe at the giant spout as it crashed down over the mossy rocks into a frothy cloud entering the pool below.

With a little encouragement, we climbed up all the way to the top, walked across, and came down the other side. It was an arduous climb but worth it in the end. And I reasoned that this would earn me a piece of birthday cake without guilt.

At the end of the day, we all met up for dinner at the 8000 kip (about 1 dollar) vegetarian buffet. The meal was delightful, with birthday song, cake, presents, and all. It was grand and I felt really lucky to have been blessed with such a memorable surprise birthday party.

Grateful for surprises.

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2 Responses to Impromptu Birthday Party with Random Strangers – Luang Prabang, Laos

  1. Ali says:

    Hi Carmella!

    This is Ali – I hear you’re back and I’m no longer on facebook, and I wanted to ask you about your yoga training that you went to in Thailand.

    Your travels sound amazing! How is being back?
    Lots of love to you!


  2. Ros says:

    Wow! What a great birthday experience you had! Wish I could go in Laos someday.

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