By the time this post is published, we will have flown 13 hours but be 15 hours ahead in the Seoul airport, or maybe we’ll be seven hours further west of that, on our layover in Bangkok, but only 13 hours ahead of where we are as I write this. Then again, we could be somewhere in between on a Tuesday in May. We’re crossing the International Date Line, so I really don’t know. Also, if you are reading this from somewhere other than the U.S.’s Central Time Zone and at a different hour from when it was first published, we could be anywhere at anytime. The space-time continuum really isn’t my forte.
Anyway, though we’ve talked a good deal about our Laos-Cambodia trip on the podcast, I haven’t written much about it here on the blog, other than the Travel Medicine post, which tells you of all the ailments and dangers we have to fear, but nothing about the trip itself. Thus, I thought I’d give you a brief run-down of our day-to-day activities which, by the time you are reading this, may already be old (but never fake) news. Thank you to Peter and Dona at Living the Q Life, from whom I lifted this idea.
Laos-Cambodia Multisport Adventure:
Day 0: Not an official day of the tour. Ever the lover of “buffer zones,” I have us arriving in Luang Prabang about 36 hours before the tour officially starts to help us acclimate and get a head start on jet lag recovery. This will be all about indulgence, self-care, and post-flight rehabilitation. If we lounge by the hotel pool this entire time, it will be sans guilt.
Day 1: Continue lounging and/or explore Luang Prabang on foot in wide-eyed, Asia neophyte fashion while struggling with the exchange rate, time difference, and pronunciation of words on my Lao cheat sheet. In the evening, start the official tour: gather for orientation, meet the other people on the tour, and hope a) nobody is super annoying and b) nobody thinks we’re super annoying. Dinner out and our first tuk-tuk ride!
Day 2: Cycle around Luang Prabang and environs to visit the Royal Palace, some wats (temples), and the nearby village of Ban Xang Khok.
Day 3: Cycle to and from Kuang Si waterfalls, which I will be swimming in no matter how much the travel medicine doctor urges caution. Also, visit a local bear conservation center, where, if the husband has displeased me in any way (a distinct possibility), he may become an ursine snack.
Day 4: Explore the village of Nong Khiaw. Pull out my rusty French, which isn’t great but beats the pants of my Lao, and which the Internet tells me might be a lingua franca in these rural parts.
Day 5: Visit a few villages in the northern highlands with a 4-hour hike in between. Explore a temple, learn about the history of Buddhism, and see how it squares with the PBS documentary The Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha, which is fascinating and highly recommended, by the way.
Day 6: Kayak along the Nam Ou and the Mekong Rivers to the Pak Ou caves and onto the village of Ban Xanghai. Drink (a possibly significant amount of) locally produced whiskey and wine. Perhaps a visit to the night market if we haven’t been already, ever watchful for the region’s nocturnal disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Day 7: Goodbye Laos… hello Cambodia! Fly to Siem Reap. Experience both joy that the ubiquity of the US dollar means no longer having to contend with exchange rates and dismay at how much harder Khmer pronunciation seems than Lao. It’s a low-key day but the spa resort they’ve booked us in looks like it has plenty of amenities to keep us busy and out of trouble.
Day 8: Cycle to and around Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm, and Angkor Wat.
Day 9: Cycle to some local villages, tasting (possibly significant amounts of) palm wine and palm sugar. Visit the Landmine Museum.
Day 10: Hike Mount Kulen to see hidden pagodas, a 16th century reclining Buddha statue, and a waterfall that will beckon and I will answer the call. Tonight: roughing it. Goodbye luxurious accommodations… hello tents and squat toilets! Who knew all those squats and wall-sits at the gym would come in so handy? Finally, my embarrassingly beefy quads will be good for something other than cycling.
Day 11: Visit the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia – Tonlé Sap – and the (sometimes) floating villages comprised of houses on stilts. Since we’re visiting during the dry season, I’m guessing we’ll see more stilts and less floating.
Day 12: Departure day. Say our goodbyes to our tour-mates and hope they don’t think we’re obnoxious for foisting our blog/podcast business cards upon them. Bid adieu to temps in the 90s and prepare for snow and (possibly bitter) cold back home. Brace ourselves for another set of grueling flights, just as we’re starting to adjust to the time zone.
That’s it, people. Enjoy whatever it is you celebrate this time of year, and if you don’t celebrate anything, enjoy the fact that those who do are generally more pleasant this time of year (Christmas cheer and all that). See you on the flip side!
Read more about our Dust-Farm-Pail List SE Asia adventures:
- Things We Learned from the Travel Medicine Doctor: Laos/Cambodia Edition
- And We’re Off…
- Southeast Asia to Midwest America Jet Lag: What Fresh Hell is This?
- Blog Buddy Meet-up #1: Luang Prabang, Laos
- Laos, Days 1-2: Cycling & Sightseeing
- Laos, Day 3: The Journey to Nong Khiaw
- Laos, Day 4+: Hiking, Remote Villages, and One Really Bad Indian Meal