I know this blog post has been a while in the making - I had it all typed up, all the photos loaded and aligned... and then my browser crashed and the post hadn't saved. I couldn't look at it for a while, couldn't bare to go through it all again. But here, I've finally forced myself to put together the second half of my Laos photos, and now I'm glad.
From Vang Vieng we had a long bus trip to Luang Prabang, high up in the mountains and winding our way through the clouds. We'd decided to splurge on a few nights in a beautiful hotel for the first part of our stay in Luang Prabang and were not disappointed. Greeted by cool green tea, a little plate of sliced banana and the warmest smiles, we immediately made ourselves at home and welcomed the comfort of our pillow-filled beds after the long bus journey. The hotel was a twenty minute walk from the centre of town which gave us ample opportunity for wanderings and explorations. Luang Prabang was colonised by the French and as a result is a dreamy combination of French charm and South East Asian energy, the streets littered with French bakeries and cafes, roadside stalls selling grilled sugar bananas, purple sweet potatoes and cassava root, beautiful terraces covered in blossoming flowers and vines, motorbikes and tuk tuks zipping around oblivious to road rules, and the smell of freshly baked baguettes alongside the smell of bubbling noodle soups. Famous for its night markets, every evening the main street becomes bustling with locally made handicrafts; clothes, tea, jewellery, bags, shawls and beautifully woven blankets, with the smells of the eat street which is filled with freshly made buffet style fare. About halfway down the main street was an all vegan buffet; less than $2 for a plate piled high with stir fries, rice, tofu dishes, noodles, eggplant dishes, rice paper rolls and more.
We spent our time in Luang Prabang wandering the streets, eating fresh fruit from the morning markets, visiting the Mt Phousi temple perched on a hilltop overlooking the whole city, and a beautiful temple which is completely covered in intricate and colourful mosaics, getting massages, buying little handmade goods for family back home, visiting the butterfly sanctuary, watching the sun go down over the Mekong with a gin and tonic in hand, and, of course, making the trek out to the Kuang Si Waterfalls. It's hard to miss the waterfalls, they're what everyone raves about when they come to Luang Prabang, and for good reason. There's a very special, sacred vibe to the Kuang Si Waterfalls, and the Lao people look after it lovingly. With turquoise waters, hundreds of individual pools that the waterfall runs through, and the noise of running water constantly in your ears, swimming in the pools was an obvious highlight of our trip.

From Luang Prabang we organised a three day trek through Lao jungle and rural villages, which was a very tough but incredibly rewarding experience. We had a guide named Onchanh throughout the whole trek, plus a different local guide each day. We slept on the floor of the village chief's house on the first night and in a little mud-brick bungalow on the second night, ate rice for every single meal, visited local schools, swam in waterfalls, laughed, cried (twice), hiked through tiny farms in incredibly isolated valleys, ate meals cooked by local women of stir fries and soups made up of river weed, bamboo shoots, eggplant and more, spent our evenings talking with Onchanh about life and death, cultural differences, gender differences, religion and spirituality, food, values, beliefs, and came out the other end of the three days covered in mud, exhausted, but so happy. Our trek ended at the very beginnings of the Kuang Si waterfalls, at the beautiful turquoise spring from which it rises up from the earth, and we followed it all the way from the top to the bottom, jumping in halfway down.

We had a couple more fairly relaxed days in Luang Prabang before we hopped on a bus for what was meant to be eight hours but actually ended up being ten hours, taking us back to the capital city of Vientiane. We spent just a night in Vientiane before catching the night train (which I actually love) back to Bangkok for our flight home.

Here are a few of my photos from our trek and Luang Prabang, taken on my Olympus OM-D E-M10 with the M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens.