I absolutely love hiking! Being outside all day, enjoying nature and being physically active beat any day of sitting in an office behind a laptop. I hiked a lot during my 5 month trip, I did a 3-day hike through the rice terraces of Batad in the Philippines, climbed Mount Doom on the North Island of New Zealand and hiked many other tracks on both the North and South Island of New Zealand.
The major difference with the hike in Vang Vieng was the temperature… While the weather had been amazing for pretty much all our previous hikes, we had not hiked in very hot weather… YET;-). Even during the hike in Batad the temperature was quite comfortable because the villages and rice terraces are about 1500 meters above sea level.
Hiking in Vang Vieng
How very different than the hike we did in Vang Vieng! The day we arrived in Vang Vieng it wasn’t very hot and a little cloudy so we enthusiastically booked a hiking tour at our hotel.
The day of the hike the sky is a stunning blue. And even at 8 in the morning it’s already pretty warm… But we are nothing if not committed so we hop into the van picking us up for the hike and off we went.
There are lots of other people in the van, but none of them are wearing suitable shoes for hiking. After driving for a while, the van pulls over at the stat of a little dirt road and a friendly Lao calls our names. Turns out he is our guide and we are the only hikers. The rest of the people are headed to the tubing drop-off point, also a fun activity and definitely more suitable for the weather;-).
With two 1,5 liter bottles each (so 4 in total!) we set off, following our guide over the dusty road.
Our guide tells us a little about himself and his family. We learn that he is just 2 years older than we are and the father of 4 children! Such a different life than our own! He also tells us more about the schooling system in Laos, very interesting.
I am very happy with our plentiful water supply because I sincerely think I have never sweated so much in my entire life. But the surrounding nature is totally worth it!
After a while we come across a concrete construction, our guide tells us this was supposed to become a bridge but the money ran out… He makes a call to someone who usually takes people across the river in a little boat, but no answer. Not a problem, he says to us, we’ll just cross a little further downstream where the river is not so deep.
Well, it may not be deep but it’s not easy getting across! The stones are sharp and slippery and the water is streaming quite fast! With help of our friendly guide we both make it across:-).
The trail keeps climbing, we keep sweating and the views keep getting better…
Along the way our guide tells us about our surroundings and shows us how the local people make use of the food that can be found in nature if you know where to look…
We walk between steep limestone cliffs until we reach a tiny trail through the dense green jungle leading to… a waterfall! We both immediately jump in the water, so good to cool off!
While our guide prepares a delicious barbeque lunch (nomnom) we jump from the rocks into our private pool, splashing around and taking pictures of our piece of paradise.
I vividly remember sitting on a rock, listening to the calming sound of the waterfall and trying to absorb every minute of that blissful moment. For one second I thought about how next month I would be back at my office but I immediately pushed that thought away and focused on how completely happy I was in that moment, enjoying just sitting there….
We have a delicious lunch with BBQ chicken, vegetables, rice and baguette and reluctantly leave this piece of paradise to start the journey back.
We are now mostly descending, looking down over the valleys and hiking through the tall grass.
The hike ends at a small bamboo bridge. And just like the bamboo bridge in Luang Prabang this bridge is rebuild after every rainy season, only to be washed away by the water during the next one. The circle of life in Laos… an amazing country!