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!


Surprise meet-up:

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.

All smiles after our surprise meeting.  I had no idea what digestive troubles awaited.

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:

41 thoughts

  1. Blogging buddy meet-ups are the best! I haven’t been disappointed yet. Sorry to read you got into digestive difficulties while travelling. All those spices in Indian food are supposed to ward that stuff off. Yikes!


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  2. What an amazing experience. I haven’t met a blogger friend, yet, but I hope to in the future. Blogging offers a new way to make friends with people from around the world. Yes, I use the word friends because even though I don’t know anyone in person we know so much of each other than eventually real friendships develop. Sorry to hear about dodgy food! Aiva

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  3. That’s so fun! We follow Jeff’s blog too. I had to look up where Deens is to see if we ate there, but we didn’t, we ate across the street. I hate getting food poisoning especially in a place like Nong Khiaw where there are few conveniences. Did you go to Muang Ngoi?

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    1. Wow! To think we were all in that little town. Glad you avoided the restaurant of despair! We didn’t go to Muang Ngoi, just Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw, our guide’s home village of Ban Pak Cheak, a Hmong village called Sop Vanh, and a few other tiny villages whose names I don’t know. I hope to spend much of this holiday weekend getting some writing done on the trip.


  4. It was great to meet you in person, and thank you so much for the advice. My trip was enhanced by NOT having an ill tummy. We made a relatively last-minute decision to go to Laos and I’m happy we did since we met up with you two, plus two other groups of friends who happened to be passing through. Small world indeed.

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  5. This is amazing!!! I haven’t had an opportunity to meet up with a fellow travel blogger during my travels yet, but I think it would be so much fun. In the time I have been blogging, I have learned how tight-knit a community the travel blogger community is.

    I will have to give Jeff a follow!!

    Also, can’t wait to hear about your culinary misadventure. Sorry to hear it was so bad 😬

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    1. It was a lot of fun, and you’ll enjoy Jeff’s posts.

      I have to say, the results of the horrible Indian food, in retrospect, was bad, but not as bad as it could have been. Years ago I had true food poisoning and seriously I thought I was gonna die. I’m so grateful this wasn’t that bad. Still, I’ll be happy to regale you with the tale in the coming weeks. 🙂

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      1. Oh my gosh, I totally know what you mean. I have only had food poisoning once and it was absolutely awful. Can’t wait to read more about your trip. Sounds like it was as amazing (a part from the bad food experience) as you thought it would be! 😀

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  6. I’ve had the opportunity to meet up with probably a dozen blogging friends over the years (and even ended up marrying one), but these were all either while they were visiting my town or I was passing through theirs. How cool that you would meet somebody literally half a world away.

    I really want to hear about this bad Indian meal…

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  7. Very cool that you met up with Jeff and Kristi, and especially in such a great place. Loved Nong Khiaw! I’ve also been following Jeff’s blog for a long time. Too bad about your experience at Deen’s…thankfully we came out of there unscathed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s so cool that your paths crossed! I’ve yet to meet any of my blogging pals but have met plenty of other internet folk. It’s great that we’re so connected with the rest of the world because of technology 🙂

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  9. What a cool meet-up, and then serendipitous second meet-up! I haven’t met up with any blogging friends, but definitely hope to in the future. You know, when we can travel again. (Current events remind us just how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to move about the world in the way that we do.) So sorry to read about the food poisoning though, ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, I have a few other blog buddies who are supposed to make an appearance in Minnesota this summer. Time will tell if that happens and if we are able to meet up. You’re right – sometimes it takes a massive upheaval like this to truly take stock of what you had/have.

      Liked by 1 person

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