Category Archives for Laos


The Friday Photo: Inside an Underground River

Konglor Cave

In Khammuan, Laos, we took a boat inside a mountain, up the underground river that runs 7.5k through the Konglor cave, and out into the green the other side. We stopped, in the dark, at a white sand beach and climbed up to this chamber of stalactites and stalagmites, illuminated in blue. It’s even more […]


Cave Tubing: Every Bit As Dangerous As It Sounds

Happy Good Mud

“Where have all the rope swings gone?” I ask the chap at the Slingshot bar, on the Nam Song river, in Vang Vieng, Laos, where Z, H and I are alternating between jumping into his mudbath and firing slingshots at a row of cans. I highly recommend jumping into a pool of warm, squishy mud, […]


The Friday Photo: HOW Beautiful Is Central Laos?

Khammuan Central Laos Karst

We’ve been off the grid for the last few days, riding the Khammuan loop around Khammuan province, central Laos. And I’m coming to the conclusion that Laos, especially during the rainy season, is one of the most consistently beautiful countries on this earth. There are gothic pinnacles of blackened karst. Reflecting pools below scalloped limestone […]


Family Values

H and Z on bikes in Laos

As a trio, H, Z and I cause no little confusion to the good and tolerant folk of Laos, where we’re exploring en route to China. “Two loom?” folk at the guesthouses ask, eyeing the flabby white lady, the skinny white child and the tall, built, black chap, and trying to work out the dynastic […]


Ecotourism? My *rse


Monday morning sees us in Chiang Mai, for centuries capital of an independent state, sometimes Siamese, other times Burmese, now the hub of northern Thailand. If you’re Thai, it’s a city of culture and spirituality, of wooden temples, medieval monasteries, crumbling chedi, universities… If you’re a tourist it’s the regional centre of those outdoor activities […]


Does the Tooth Fairy Take Lao Kip?


So junior’s molar, which has been threatening to drop for the last few weeks, finally did the deed today. He hasn’t, historically, had the best record with teeth. Lost one in ice-cream. Swallowed another. And one, I think, fell out of a car window, in circumstances which are blurred, though the ensuing sorrow, of course, […]


Spirits of the Forest

Scarlet three-petalled flower with large black seeds suspended below. Nam Ha forest, Luang Namtha, Laos.

The sheer complexity of the ecosystem in protected, mature forest, from lichens spinning their symbiotic webs across old bark to the chaos wild pigs wreak on stands of giant bamboo, gives you a whole new perspective on the world and your infinitesimal place within it. And when your guides are animists, who whole-heartedly believe in […]


The Good Life?

Four year old Hmong girl holds a handbag, Luang Namtha province, Northern Laos.

This is Sing’s eldest daughter, showing off her handbag outside the house her father built. Her name means “Be Loved”. Be Loved’s younger sister is called “Be Happy” and the baby’s name means “General”. Appropriately since, like many youngest children, she isn’t shy about asserting her needs. Sing chose his daughters’ names before he was […]


On Books


Back in Udomxay, the construction town in northern Laos where our two-day odyssey from Vietnam reached a natural close, we met a crazy Canadian chap with an Irish accent and a Beer Lao can seemingly stapled twixt thumb and forefinger. Not so much met as, perhaps, attracted. Charming chap. Pushing 70. Thoroughly pickled 24-7. And […]


A Rainy Season Odyssey


The start of the monsoon season in Vietnam’s northern highlands is a beautiful thing. The rivers turn turbid and golden, rapids smearing the surface like toffee coming to the boil; young rice seedlings and their older siblings stipple paddy terraces in varying greens; waterfalls appear everywhere you look. Old women from the hill tribes carry […]