Tag Archives: Laos

Birthday Recap

I noticed that I have not given the world a thorough read of my birthday last month. Lets start with the fact that I turned 14 on March 16th in Vang Vieng, Laos which is north of Vientiane (the capital). VV is known as an outdoors activity town where there are a bunch of really fun things to do – perfect place to celebrate if you ask me.

The first order of the day was that I allowed my family to sleep in until 10 (I am the birthday boy so rule the family)! We decided on a place for breakfast that my parents like because of the coffee; I didn’t mind because I chose a special spot for dinner. After breakie, we went back to our rooms to get ready for the activities planned for the day.

First stop ZIPLINING!!!! The zip lining was loads of fun! We were flying through the air like a monkey and bird combined in one. Spoiler Alert: at the end they did a long zip-line and pulled the ropes up and down so that you were bouncing as you flew down to the base camp. I’ve done zip lines before and this one ranks up there with the best.


After that there is a water cave where you go into a pitch-black cave on inner tubes. They have ropes that you hold onto so that you don’t drift off into the darkness and luckily they give you head lamps to see (my dad’s did not work!). I remember humming to myself the batman song as we pulled ourselves deeper into the cave. It took about 10 minutes or so going into it and we went as fast as we could to get out because there were 20 Korean tourists coming in (No Photos unfortunately).

After the zip line and cave adventure, we headed back to town to Smile Beach which has a bar for fruit shakes and hammocks to chill out. The river has rapids there and it’s fun to wade in the water on tubes but even more fun when you splash the other tubers coming down the river! I was a big surprise to quite a few people that got wet coming by our beach! We stayed until sunset and then we went to my birthday dinner. I wanted to have Mexican and the good news is that VV has a really good Mexican spot. We shared french fry nachos which is like regular nachos except with fries instead of chips – yum! I ordered an enchilada that filled me up. We walked back to the hotel after a hearty meal and went to bed quite easily after a great day of fun. One that I will never forget!


I splashed the guide!!!

I splashed the guide!!!

Our Travels in Laos

We continue our stay in Laos and flew from Luang Prabang to the capital, Vientiane, where we stayed at the Dream House Hostel. It was a popular place with backpackers from all over the world, and we had a family room all for ourselves. We liked Vientiane’s French cafes but not as much as the ones in Luang Prabang. We also rented bicycles to tour around town which was pretty fun and easy.


Beers in Vientiane


Parisien Café









From Vientiane we took an overcrowded mini-bus (24 passengers to be precise!) to Vang Vieng and spent 5 days there. Vang Vieng was once a popular destination for the “rave” style backpackers sharing all kinds of drugs; the same species that attends the full moon parties in Thailand. While still crowded with young people, the rave has been replaced with outdoor activities like kayaking, tubing, zip line, trekking and mountain biking. We had an action packed week as we biked around town and visited caves. We also celebrated Sebastian’s 14th birthday in style – with a zip lining adventure followed by tubing inside a cave. The birthday celebration closed out with a tasty Mexican dinner as per honoree choice.


Vang Vieng


Sunset over Vang Vieng


Our next destination was Southern Laos and the 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don). However, to get from Vang Vieng Point A to the islands Point B required a 28-hour journey that included 1 minibus, 1 tuk tuk, 1 overnight bus, 1 school type bus, and of course a long skinny boat. Phew! We made it to Don Det and stayed at the comfortable Little Eden Guest House which has the best sunsets on the Mekong River. Don Det is one of the 4000 Islands and the one that has the most restaurants and guest houses. We successfully found our favorite restaurant – Street View – that belongs to a nice Aussie and had 1/2 of our meals there. We also spent one day kayaking with a fun group of young travelers (our family included the oldest and youngest members of the kayaking group). It was a lot of paddling on the Mekong to reach the area, on the border with Cambodia, where we spotted the rare Mekong dolphins, the Irrawaddy dolphins. We also visited the impressive Khon Phapheng Falls, which as the kids said, it is a mini Niagara Falls and the largest falls in Southeast Asia.

We bid farewell to Laos after having spent 23 days visiting the country. It was certainly a great visit, from North to South.

Next stop – We are back to Bangkok for some urban and retail therapy, catch up on school and finalize our plans to India and Sri Lanka.


Little Eden Guesthouse, at Don Det


Khon Phapheng Falls



The Mekong, 4000 Islands


The 14-year-old boy


This is how we travel


The Elephant Conservation Center, Laos

Thanks to my sister-in-law Sarah, who did a detailed research on the best place to learn more about elephants without harming them, we were fortunate to spend 2 days at the Elephant Conservation Center, in Sayaboury. We also wanted to make sure our funds were going to a place that cared deeply about Asian elephants and is involved in the conservation of these gentle giants. We could not have been happier with our stay at ECC.

The ride from Luang Prabang to the ECC was very bumpy and once we arrived in Sayaboury, a truck from the ECC picked us up. After that, we jumped on a boat to the Center. After a delicious home-made lunch, we started the tour of the facility to learn more about the Asian elephants. The staff was very professional and we can certainly feel their passion for elephants! The highlight of our afternoon was certainly the opportunity to ride the elephants, one by one. There were 4 female elephants and their mahouts (handlers). We learned about the commands that each elephant follows. It was super fun to ride them, their skin is a bit rough though! We got to give them some treats afterwards – sugar cane sticks. They all loved it!

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We also visited the Center’s elephant hospital with their Spaniard biologist, Annabelle, who was wonderful at providing valuable details about the work the center does all around Laos.

We left the ECC feeling great about the visit and with a new sense of protection, concern, and education towards the livelihood of Elephants.

Our last adventure in Laos with Sarah and Amanda was the upstream Mekong boat cruise from Luang Prabang to Houay Xai, on the boarder with Thailand. Our boat – Shompoo Cruise – was quite comfortable and with a good blend of passengers from several nationalities. We enjoyed the slow pace of the river and scenery and spent our days playing cards, reading and watching the world go by. We spent the night at Pakbeng which is half way between Luang Prabang and Houay Xai, and where we also had a farewall dinner for Sarah and Amanda, together with an early-birthday celebration for Sebastian. The following day, upon arriving in Houay Xai, the girls would cross to Thailand and we would jump into the overnight bus back to Luang Prabang. OK, that was the initial plan but as we arrived at the bus station, we learned that the 4 seats we had reserved had been already sold and we could either sit on the corridor (hellooooo, it’s an overnight trip of 10 hours people!!!) or travel the next day. Can you guess what we did? Yep, we stayed one night in Houay Xai to catch the bus.

Next stop – Vientiane, Laos


The 3-month old baby elephant



Elephant Conservation Center



Shompoo Cruise at the Mekong


View from our hotel in Pakbeng