A short walk from the van brought me to the ferry dock.
The Island of Don Det is populated with guest houses and rice Paddy farms. That’s really it. It is a tropical paradise! You can choose to stay on the sunrise side, or the sunset side. Both are beautiful.
Today, I went for an 8 hour kayak tour. I was blown away!! We were provided breakfast, lunch, boat guide, boat, paddle, life vest, and several overland transfers, all for $22 USD. The best $22 I have spent in a long time!
What a day!! Paddling, swimming, paddling, waterfalls, meeting cool people from around the world….and basking in the sun.
Tomorrow: more of all of that!!! I absolutely love the 4000 Islands!!
I’m staying at Kam’s Mystic Mountain coffee farm. Kam is smart, creative and a true scientist. He grows delicious coffee, avocados, cacao, weed, and more. He is a master coffee roaster and a super nice guy.
He grows high quality Arabica coffee all under shade. He sells mainly to visitors to his farm.
The view from the top of this hill is breathtaking.
I’m staying for two nights so I can climb the two peaks nearby.
He has the sunrise view and the sunset view. So far, I have been here for the sunset.
I also was fortunate to hang out with a couple of crazies who live in Laos and stopped by for the day. They drank, smoked and puffed. They were a hoot and provided great entertainment.
Tomorrow: to the mountains! I’m thrilled to spend two full days in this coffee haven!
Today I stopped by a coffee farm where I met Mr Liang. He owns about three acres where he cultivates three varieties of coffee: Robusta, Arabic, and Liberica; as well as cacao and he’s hoping for some cannabis in the future.
I’m back on a motorcycle touring the Bolaven Plateau. On this five day journey I plan to visit and drink LOTS of coffee!!
You probably know how much I love coffee, and maybe not, that I worked in coffee for 11 years- including at the trading desk and in the tasting room. I was his best student on the tour…..
We strolled his land while he explained coffee: growing, harvesting, washing, drying, milling and finally roasting. He taught himself. And did a great job! He knows his stuff.
We were introduced to each variety of tree, and he explained the Laos cassava market to us.
We also had the chance to eat red ants!! And honestly, they were not bad….tasted lemony.
Who knows what’s in store next…..I’m hoping for more great coffee. Everything else is icing on the cake.
This morning I said good to Sam and Melissa one more time. This time for good, for this trip.
I spent two nights with them. Long enough to go to the river for an afternoon of R&R and to spend some time on a rope.
We ended our evening with a little ceremony. I loaned them some money to buy Green Climbers Home. After being there and seeing how amazing the place, and them running it feels, I forgave the remainder of the debt. We burned the “note” together.
Yesterday was a travel day from Vieng Vang to Vientiane. The roads were patchy…..lots of gravel sections, which I feel I have now mastered. Thank you YouTube!!
I rolled straight to the repair shop recommended to me by Mad Monkey (my rental co). An hour and $30 later the bike is repaired, the dent is knocked out and I’m on my way. Whew!!!
I’m staying in the heart of the city in a lovely Airbnb apartment high above the street. I love it so much I’ve extended my stay another night. Being in a nation’s capital city deserves more than an afternoon.
And the food! I videoed my walk down the street in front of my apt. I just grabbed bites of deliciousness for dinner last night. Yummy! Can’t wait to do it again tonight.
Fairy tale land. Really. Green karst mountains to climb, blue lagoon pools to swim in and so much more.
I was back on two wheels, but human powered for me today. Yesterday I drove through a 6k road washout and wrecked. Hard. I bruised or cracked a rib and did a number on my pointer finger. The bike is also a bit messed up. I lost my left foot post. I’m still game to keep going. The bike rental folks were amazing, and so chill.
I’m sure the error was rider……the trucks on the route were being hauled up the section of road by a huge front loader-tractor. Yikes. I was WAY out of my league. Full moon…….is my explanation for that!
Back to the beauty and joy of this place. I rode a zero speed bike 20k on gravel and loved every minute. It’s just so beautiful here. I hiked, swam and caved my way along the route. It was fab!!
It feels so good to be in warm, sunny weather in a beautiful area. I feel very lucky to be living this life. I screw up, I get up, and I just keep going. What the hell else am I going to do?
My guest house is comfy, warm, and quiet. The village is quaint, and today I rode bikes and hung out with elephants!! What’s not to love!!
My guide Phao picked me up at 8:30 sharp. We drove to the start of our ride where the bikes were waiting. After a few miles, our boat awaited us to cross the river.
Phao’s story is amazing. He was born in a Hmong village and was lucky enough to go to school. It meant leaving his family for 16 years. He made it through University. His knowledge of the culture helped me piece together all I have seen in the past week. It was so informative and fascinating.
We rode through villages, farms and rubber tree groves. After some fun, flowy single track, we were back to the river and another boat ride.
Soon, the elephants showed up. The organization I rode with is sponsoring an elephant rescue and preservation program. It’s currently small, but is allowing the elephants space to live, graze and be safe. The elephants deserve the best life possible.
I did get to bathe, brush, and swim with the gentle giants. After the bath, we went to a corral where the elephants devoured bamboo tree trunks, leaves and I got to feed them bananas, which they loved! Their trucks are so dextrous! It’s like they have thumbs.
I’ve never been so intimate with an elephant. Touching it, feeding it, brushing it, talking to it. I was in awe.
Mountain biking + washing an elephant + learning from Phao made for a very special day for me in Laos.
My ride today was lovely. I twisted and turned through rustic, old-world, villages. There was no commerce in any of them. Each had a sign that must explain the government programs protecting their culture.
I so wanted to stop and take a photo of a woman with a basket full of reeds on her back wearing a very traditional hat and skirt. I decided it would be intrusive, so I didn’t stop.
Trees were in full bloom all along my route today.
Here’s a little video where you can join me on my bike.
The view out of my Guesthouse window and door are stunning and quaint (less the smoke).
And my last favorite thing today: Sam sent me the photo below of a route he put up, (and which I was lucky to help with a belay). Sam decided to name the route “Murphy’s”, for Scott. I 💕 this so much.