The Rough and Tumble Part of the Honeymoon Part 2– Three Days of Trekking in Laos

We woke up around 6:30am and were dry, which was a relief, however being awake this early in the morning was not my favourite thing, but oh well when in Rome, live like the Romans. Everyone was up and about going about their early morning business and as soon as the kids caught wind of us being awake they came round, they were wandering around our hut waiting for us to get out.

Snapshot from early morning village life

Snapshot from early morning village life

Yeng was getting our breakfast ready, while Raquel and I went to the tap to brush our teeth, all with the kids in tow. Even as we had breakfast, they sat in front of us as if to see what these strange folks eat in the morning. Raquel, being much more a morning person than me, was already playing games with them (even getting her hair done by  them) and as soon as we finished breakfast she had the iPhone out playing Talking Tomcat with them, while Yeng prepared our lunch.

This was our entertainment at breakfast

This was our entertainment at breakfast

Having fun with the kids!

Having fun with the kids!

It was around 7am when we said our goodbyes to the kids and the village chief and started our trekking for the day. Yeng warned us that today would be much tougher than the day before as there was a lot more uphill trekking to do. We set off again in flip-flops though as there were a few streams to cross before starting our ascent.

Off we go again

Off we go again

More streams to contend with

More streams to contend with

Yeng taking photos of butterflies for his wife

Yeng taking photos of butterflies for his wife

The good thing was that it was slightly overcast which meant the sun was not scorching down on us, but having to carry seven litres of water on these ascents was not that simple. At some point there was a lot climbing with hands, which meant that I couldn’t really take too many photos, so I decided to put the camera away.

Raquel and her new do

Raquel and her new do

Yeah despite all the trekking we were happy

Yeah despite all the trekking we were happy

When we reached the top of the last ascent for the day, Yeng stopped us for a much needed break and lunch, which curiously consisted out of boiled then fried bamboo with vegetable and, you guessed it, sticky rice. I actually really enjoyed the bamboo; Raquel not so much… With lunch over and done with, we retook to the road and soon arrived on a main gravel road which would lead us to our destination, the Hmong village where we would spending the night.

Great landscapes to walk through

Great landscapes to walk through

More streams

More streams

The harder uphill part of the trek

The harder uphill part of the trek

As we got closer, we came across some people and Yeng immediately told us that they were Hmong. We were curious as to how he could tell and he told us that the Hmong are “whiter” (by that I think he meant paler than the Khmu) and they had higher cheekbones with slightly wider faces than those of the Lao and Khmu.

Travelling Tonito in his glory

Travelling Tonito in his glory

One for the books

One for the books

Yeng and me

Yeng and me

We were getting close to the Hmong village, which curiously was next to a Khmu village, which was a very good way to see the differences between the two ethnicities and how they lived, but more importantly how the built houses. The Khmu being from the lowland, build their houses on stilts, while the Hmong, build theirs on earth, as we shortly found out when we arrived in the village.

Houses on stilts

Houses on stilts

Arriving at the Khmu village next the Hmong one

Arriving at the Khmu village next the Hmong one

Our arrival at the village seemed to bring out the same feelings of suspicion that we had on the day before, but here the kids were a lot more curios and immediately seemed to follow us at a distance.

The Khmu village

The Khmu village

Once again we were staying with the chief, who welcomed us with family and directed us to where we would sleep for the night, inside his house with his family. It was a modest home with a large central room, with two bedrooms on one side and two beds in it, and then an adjoining kitchen with another bedroom.

Both of us desperately needed to wash up as we were feeling filthy, and it was as we were taking off our shoes, that Raquel noticed the she was bleeding quite profusely from just above the ankle but didn’t seem to have any major cuts. When Yeng saw it, he immediately knew what had happened, Raquel had been bitten by leaches… We went off to the communal tap, less crowded than at the last one, to get ourselves slightly washed up.

Loved this little girls face

Loved this little girls face

This woman's smile was contagious

This woman’s smile was contagious

Yeng then took us for a walk while talking about the Khmu and their traditions, superstitions and how they made their livelihood. It was interesting to see the difference between the two ethnicities. One thing we noticed which was diffent between the Khmu and the Hmong was almost the lack of traditional clothing with the Khmu, where as the Hmong had very distinctive traditional dress, similar to the Hmong we met in Sapa.

The kids showing off with their spinning tops

The kids showing off with their spinning tops

The snapshots of the kids

The snapshots of the kids

2012-10-07 001 230

Great photo of three friends!

2012-10-07 001 210

Great group shot of the kids

We stumbled on boys playing with handmade spinning tops. We sat down for a while to look at them play while Yeng told us some more of the Hmong. The boys turned out to be quite entertaining, showing us all their tricks with their spinning tops, though when we took out the camera, they cared more about being photographed than playing, and so we entered into a photography session, with each child wanting their photo to be taken. As soon as you took the photo, they would all run around to see how they looked. Some were so excited they you feel them shake from excitement as you showed them their photos.

More from the kids

More from the kids

All the kids walked back with us as we headed back to the chief’s house where we all sat down around the front of his house and talked, via Yeng. Raquel once again brought out the iPhone and the Talking Tomcat app to the delight of the kids, and while she entertained them, I was talking to the chief (via Yeng) about life in the villages etc.

The chief and his daughter

The chief and his daughter

The chief was such a nice man and it was pity, as he himself said, that he couldn’t speak English otherwise he would spend hours chatting to us. He kept getting photos to show his daughters, which weren’t living in the village anymore and told us about their lives in Luang Prabang. The chief also had a very young daughter, who has down syndrome, but you could see how much they loved the little and the attention she got.

Playing with the kids out front

Playing with the kids out front

While they were preparing dinner, Raquel and played with one of the chiefs grandsons, who had only started walking a few weeks prior, so he was wandering about with Raquel and me in tow.

Talking Tomcat out again

Talking Tomcat out again

It was already dark when dinner was ready and to my dismay, it wasn’t really my favourite food… Village tofu, spinach and a selection of fluffy rice, and you guessed it, sticky rice… It was definitely not my cup of tea and while Raquel seemed to be satisfied, I was absolutely starving, but ate the food as I didn’t want to insult our hosts.

After dinner Raquel and I headed to bed as not only did we have a tiring day, but we had another early morning ahead and a long and hard trek awaiting us. We stumbled into bed and I fell asleep straight away while Raquel struggled to fall asleep, but eventually did.

It was around 4am when we were suddenly awoken by a lot of noise. We were still half asleep when we could hear the family chasing a chicken through the house, the chicken making so much noise as if running away from death, little did we know that it was actually the case.

We fell asleep again and only woke up when the sun rose, around 6am, and as Raquel opened her eyes three little kids watching us sleep, scurried away. Once properly awake we went off to brush our teeth and once we got back to the kitchen, we realized what had happened to the chicken screaming at 4am… It was boiled and sitting in a pot waiting to be eaten for breakfast.

I was still famished from the previous nights food, or lack of it, and really was not in the mood for boiled chicken so early in the morning. Fortunately, Yeng had prepared toast, eggs and coffee for us which was an absolute godsend for me.

After breakfast, Yeng, prepared lunch while Raquel and I packed up and played with the kids some more.

Our last day of trekking

Our last day of trekking

We said our thank yous and goodbyes to the village and started our long trek to our pick up point. Yeng warned us that today would be another tough days of trekking which included two big hills to cross over and then a very long steep descent to the river.

More streams

More streams

To be honest the climbing the two rather big hills was actually not the hardest part of the day. Both Raquel and I might not be the fittest people on earth, but we have gumption, we keep going and make sure we finish something we started.

Not too many photos of the day

Not too many photos of the day

We had two challenges on our final day. The first challenge was less to do with us, and more to do nature… Raquel and Yeng were being attacked by leaches, especially on the more dense areas of the jungles we were walking through. Raquel in particular was being sought after by the leaches and she was not enjoying it at all.

Yeng and Raquel

Yeng and Raquel

Once we got out of the dense jungle, the leaches subsided, but then, I had my own problems with the steep descents. I have a bit of a dodgy knee, which does not deal well with steep inclines, and it was a good two hours of steep inclines .

Post leach attack

Post leach attack

Final lunch time of the trek

Final lunch time of the trek

When we finally reached the bottom the hill by the river, both Raquel and I were tired and just dying to get back to the truck picking us up, not only drink some water (which had run out of us on our descent), but also just to sit and lay down and rest.

The last village before our descent

The last village before our descent

We crossed the river on a rickety boat and stumbled into the back of the truck, happy that the day of trekking was over. It still took us a while to get back to Luang Prabang as they were working on the road, but we didn’t care, we just slept.

After 40km of trekking over three days, no real showers, food that was not really our favourite we were happy it was over, however quite happy we had experienced this amazing trek, meeting some wonderful people and experiencing life in the villages in a way that we would have never been able to otherwise.

Yeng, our guide, was absolutely fantastic and I have to be honest had he not been the way he was, we have enjoyed the trek substantially less than we did.

This post is based on our day of the 6th and 7th of October 2012.

**Practical Details**

The tour was organised through White Elephant Adventures for $137.50per person and included the following:

:: All drinking water;

:: All meals during trek including 3 lunches, 2 dinners and 3 breakfasts;

:: Sleeping bags

:: Basic Lodging in the villages

This entry was posted in Asia, Laos, Travels and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Rough and Tumble Part of the Honeymoon Part 2– Three Days of Trekking in Laos

  1. Thats a great blog you have there ; to catch up more on travel, or examine different trips.
    you can visit : http://www.globetrotter.asia or follow us on http://www.globetrotterasia.wordpress.com

    Best Regards

    Ved

  2. Brett says:

    Thanks again for sharing your 3 day trekking tour with everyone. Yeng says hi and was thrilled to see the great blog you put together of his time with you as a guide. It’s feedback and reviews like this that motivates us to keep working hard to make and share experiences like this will others. Thank you and all the best to you and Raquel. Drop in and say hello if you should ever pass again through Luang Prabang. — Brett, Yeng, and all the staff at White Elephant Adventures

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