Somehow they knew exactly how long to keep each dish on the fire for! This was such a fantastic surprise, especially as Amy had totally under-sold it. As Flash Pack insiders we all agreed this should be hyped up for future trips! It was so worth getting up at am! We all gathered on one of the balconies that evening and enjoyed many Chang beer and many laughs together- the village people really do go above and beyond to take care of their guests.
We later learned they had ridden a motorbike to the nearest store which could not have been that close two times to get more Chang for us! In fact, between the 15 of us, we managed to consume 86 Chang that night! Told you she was an awesome guide! The Night of 86 Chang encapsulated: The next day it was good-bye to Thailand and I left feeling like I had so much of a better sense of the heart and soul of the country than from my few times visiting the beaches in the southern part of the country. The beaches are of course spectacular but there is so much more natural beauty I had never seen and the local village people we met were all incredibly kind and welcoming.
Steve even gave Amy complete control to order for him, at every single meal. He followed up after the trip saying it was a rude awakening being back to real-life and especially having to decide what to eat again. After crossing the border we met our Laos guide, a friendly local named Tui who complimented Amy perfectly with his kind smile and we boarded the vessel that would take us on a two day trip down the Mekong river. This was one of the most relaxing two days of my life as we watched the banks of Laos pass by from the confines of the comfortable boat, operated by a local husband and wife couple.
We even had a Laos cooking lesson on-board and had our first tastes of the Lao dishes we would come to love. We stopped for the night in the riverbank village of Pakbeng, which seemed to be a popular spot maybe the only spot? Our accommodation was adjacent to the local establishment, the Happy Bar, where we enjoyed Lao Beer Chang Beer was so yesterday and pool with some locals while Bob Marley tunes played in the background. Buffalo blood is even a delicacy here! During our second day on the Mekong we stopped to explore the Tam Ting caves, which were created in the 15th century with more than 4, wooden figures of Buddha inside natural limestone caves nestled into islands.
Tim Tang is a representation of the natural character and ancient spiritualism of Laos, a world that exists with peace and not conflict and where spiritualism exists in nature not just humans, including the water spirit of the Mekong. We arrived in Luang Prabang, where we would be spending our final three nights of the trip.
How was the trip winding down already?? This one really flew by. But there was still much fun to be had! Our accommodations, The Grand , included beautiful views and we were all very happy to be settling in for three nights. The French had brought the game to Laos and it has remained popular, one of the many European colonial influences that is still reflected in the Lao culture today.
We got some lessons and split into teams for a tourney, which was a lot of fun and just a smidge competitive. Dinner that night was a traditional Lao BBQ, which was so much fun! You pick out your ingredients amongst a bountiful selection of vegetables, meat, fish and spices and cook them in a BBQ kept hot by embers.
It was such a fun and delicious meal and was punctuated by non-stop laughter among the group. That night I recall looking around the table at my new friends and feeling incredibly lucky. Our last two days of the trip flew by and we explored Lao Prebang, including Mount Phousi which takes about steps to summit with the reward of panoramic views and a golden stupa and temple.
There were also markets to explore and cheap massages to be had in Luang Prebang and the night market was particularly bustling.
- Of Darkness and Light (The Star Child Series Book 1).
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Our last full day was an early one when we participated in the traditional giving of alms to local monks, which takes place at sunrise when about monks process down the main street of town, collecting their food for their one meal the day. Our offering was sticky rice and as the monks silently processed by we sat on small stools you can also kneel and gave each monk a small portion. After our own breakfast that consisted of much more than sticky rice we were off for our final trek, this one to another a waterfall.
We met our local guide in the village, as it is a tradition to use a local guide as a way to support the village who maintains the trail. Our guide was 75 years old and we had a hard time keeping up with him at times! The hike wound us through the Lao jungle, through some villages and the occasional buddhist shrine. At one point we came across a little family run cafe that boasted a log crossing challenge.
Yes, please! Five of us gave the challenge a whirl if you can make it across the log without falling in you are rewarded with a Beer Lao, if you fall off you must buy a Beer Lao. We had a demo where the proprietor made it there and back with no problem and even while balancing a beer on his head.
How hard could this be? The water was extremely refreshing,though, and it was well worth cooling off and for the laughs my attempt was absolutely horrible, embarrassingly so! Appropriately humbled and giddy from the beer, we finished our trek to be rewarded by the incredible Kuang Si waterfall.
Laos and Thailand are not fooling around in the waterfall department! We swam in the waterfall pools enjoying the cascading water and even figuring out how to get between the rocks and the waterfall to view the falls from behind.
what a bummer yummy sticky quickies Manual
And, if you stood under the water the right way, it was also an excellent shoulder massage! Nobody wanted to go to bed that night as it felt like an admission that the trip was ending…so we stayed up talking and laughing until our stomachs hurt so much laughing on this trip! It rung true then but also seems particularly appropriate for this trip, 20 years later, seeing the moon in Thailand and Laos with this group of people.
As I reflected on what made this group so special, it occurred to me that despite all being adventure travelers in our 30s and 40s, there were other commonalities that transcended the obvious ones. First of all, every single person in the group is hilarious. Just really, really funny people.
So much laughing! Really, though, the group wanted to know the local people, embrace the local experiences, and absorb the local culture. And together, with the help of Amy and Tui, that is exactly what we did.
Teha’s Travels – Teha's Travels- Sometimes You Just Gotta…
I know that sounds cheesy but I honestly wanted to savor every single stunning mountain view, every single step taking us further into the clouds, every single laugh with new friends, and every single breath sometimes gasps of oxygen depleted air. Here goes…. I vividly remember back in May when I learned that Flash Pack was running an Insider trip for a new Nepal trekking tour in the Everest region.
It took about. Despite having other trips between then and Nepal, I was SO excited for this one. As background, I love climbing and mountains and being outside and anything active and adventures AND I also love Nepal. What could be more perfect?? Almost like a gravitational pull from the other side of the world. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, I was excited to meet the group and they surpassed my already high expectations based on the type of person I thought would be attracted to this sort of an adventure trip.
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These are my people. Our guide, Dakman D-Man, to us , was sincere, smiling, and clearly passionate about his country and the Everest region in particular. I climbed into bed after our initial group dinner even more excited for what was next with this incredible group of people. It was an early bell the morning we headed deep into the Himalaya mountain range, an area more commonly known as the Everest region. Now I was embarking on a nine-day trek through the mountain range, a trek that would take me to new heights and to over 16, feet.
I knew all of this before we boarded the tiny plane that would take us to the mountain village of Lukla- the gateway to Everest. It was right below me, outside my window. We were coming in HOT! I like that spin and am going with it! So, while many porters are of the Sherpa ethnicity indicated if their last name is Sherpa , many are not. Anyways, our bad-ass porters carried all of our stuff on their backs for the entire length of the trek the same trek that we had difficulty just carrying ourselves through and they did it hours faster than us!
I tried on one of the packs and could barely turn in a circle for a photo opp!
See a Problem?
No joke. We also passed by many prayer wheels and learned that everything is clockwise indicating the direction you walk around a shrine or spin a prayer wheel. And while spinning of the prayer wheels was optional, most of us felt like we could use any goodwill that we could conjure up! There were a few times we stopped to let groups animals pass by, laden with large bags of rice and canisters of cooking oil. As we weaved our way through tiny mountain villages we waved and exchanged greetings with friendly locals- smiling children playing in the streets and women washing clothes outside or carrying a chicken home.
The first day of trekking was an easy one, especially now that I know what a hard day is like. Our destination was the first Yeti mountain lodge of several we would be staying in, this one perched on a picturesque riverbank.
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We were greeted with hot towels and lemon tea, a welcome gesture we quickly became accustomed to and would come to eagerly anticipate after a long day of trekking. As we continued our expedition and chatted with folks along the way, I learned more about accommodations on the Everest trail. It turns out that hot towels and comfy beds with electric blankets are not the norm. Let me be clear that the Yeti lodges are not Ritz Carltons. They feel exactly like mountain lodges should feel- made of Lincoln logs and run by welcoming locals who are also excellent cooks.
Tea houses are more basic and although they definitely vary the norm is sleeping on mats in a large room and without an indoor bathroom. I was too exhausted to leave the comfort of my electric blanket-infused bed that first afternoon, but others explored the little accompanying village, which was complete with wooden suspension bridges spanning the river and even an Irish bar.
It was there, at our first stop, that we began what became ongoing speculation as to if we were feeling the effects of altitude or not. Emma from London felt tingling in her fingers and assumed it was a side effect of the medication, Diamox, which has off-label usage to eliminate the impacts of altitude. In fact, 14 of our group was taking Diamox as a prophylactic remedy to the often-crippling altitude sickness that can plague mountain adventurers.
I joked sort of that the medication actually does nothing but people think it works, since the potential side effects from the medication seemed to be identical to the symptoms of altitude sickness.