Whoda thunk I’d meet a fellow blogger nearly 8,000 miles away from home in little ol’ Luang Prabang, Laos? Certainly not I, but that’s exactly what happened.
I’m not sure how long Jeff Bell of Planet Bell Photo & Travel Blog and I have been blog buddies, but it’s been a while. He’s a talented photographer and I enjoy reading his blog. From it, I knew that he is an Oklahoman living in Bangkok with his teacher wife, but not much else, other than what I gleaned of his travels by reading his posts. But after the husband and I released our 23rd podcast (Laos Livin’), I found out a little more about Jeff.
He had listened to the podcast, learned we’d soon be in Luang Prabang, and subsequently contacted me to say that he and his wife would be there over Christmas. As it turned out, we were going to be there for pretty much the same week. We exchanged details and promised to be in touch once we were both in country.
So it was that on our second day in Laos the husband and I walked to a coffee shop in town and met Jeff and his wife, Kristi. The idea of more coffee was quickly discarded and we repaired to a Mekong riverside bar and restaurant where we passed several hours getting to know them, shooting the breeze, drinking in the scenery and the beverages, and learning about their interesting lives as expats living in Thailand. We also discovered we’d been on the same Thai Smile flight from Bangkok. Small world!
Four days after we’d said our goodbyes, the husband and I were with our tour group 88 miles to the northwest of Luang Prabang in the small town of Nong Khiaw. That evening (a fateful evening that shall forever be remembered as the time I had my first bad – as in really bad, no, sickeningly bad – Indian meal ever… more in a different post) the husband and I were walking along the flag-festooned bridge in town. As I glanced to my right I thought I saw a familiar-looking figure. “Is that Jeff?” I asked the husband. “Jeff?” I called. Yes, it was Jeff!
Maybe it was the alcohol I drank on our first meet-up. More likely it was the alcohol mixed with the jet lag. Whatever it was, I have no memory of Jeff telling us that he would be in Nong Khiaw, too, although apparently he did. In any case, there he was. We had a brief chat before we left him alone to work his photographic magic with the surrounding karsts.
A day or two later, once I’d regained my strength, I gave Jeff a gift. I sent him an email with a dire warning to avoid Deen’s Indian Restaurant at all costs. (If you ever find yourself in Nong Khiaw, you should, too.)
One of the unexpected benefits of blogging has been the feeling that I have friends all over the world – like modern-day pen pals – though I certainly never expected I’d actually get to meet any of them in person. Jeff was the first. I hope he’s the first of many.
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