My 17th Birthday in Laos!

As I will likely be busy tomorrow celebrating my birthday, I thought that I should write a blog post before I turn 17. We are currently in Tad Lo, Laos, where we have been enjoying some beautiful waterfalls for the past two days. We have been in Laos for almost a week now and it has been very enjoyable so far.

I have been updating the photography page quite a bit recently and have added quite a few photos from the past few weeks from when we cut inland from the coast of Vietnam to where we are now. From the last time I wrote a blog post, there have been a few different highlights such as surfing in Bai Dai, enjoying lots of waterfalls, and biking through the deep jungles of Laos soon after the border.

Although the waves were a little big at Bai Dia, Markos and I had lots of fun trying out some different sized boards and playing around in the waves. Tarn rented a body board and had quite a bit of fun as well. Markos and I were able to stand up on the smaller boards and it was exciting to be on a board that was so light and moveable. We will hopefully be able to surf in Japan as I have heard of a few different spots that we might be travelling through. If you didn’t know already, my brothers and I learned how to surf two years ago in San Diego. Our second time surfing was in Agonda, India, a few months ago and personally, that has been my favorite surfing spot so far. We are now able to surf without lessons and it just comes down to technique and being able to read the waves, both of which will come with time. We all really enjoy surfing and I would highly recommend trying it someday if you haven’t already.

While we were on the coast, we also saw lots of kite boarders who were enjoying the high winds that we happened to be biking into. Although it was pretty tough to have constant head wind for three or four days on end, it was super cool to see the kite boarders enjoying the wind and doing some pretty amazing tricks. Seeing the mixture of wakeboarding, surfing, and techniques from sailing igniting a spark of interest in the minds of Markos and I. It is definitely something that we would like to try some day!

From the coast of Vietnam, we headed inland towards an international border into south-eastern Laos. My dad had previously done a bit of planning and he was able to find a route that followed an old river bed and it was extremely beautiful. We rode through a bunch of rolling hills that slowly worked up into larger mountains upon the border. A few days before we crossed the border, we stayed at a guest house where I ended up meeting and spending a bit of time with this Vietnamese guy who played guitar. It was really fun to hear him play guitar and he let me borrow it for a little bit. I was so glad to finally play a full sized guitar again. I haven’t been playing my guitar that much recently, but as soon as I started playing some of my favorite songs it made me really made me realize how much I enjoy playing guitar. I have been trying to play my travel guitar a little bit more recently and I hope to continue playing so that I can jam with my friends Jean-Luc and Eric when I get home.

Unfortunately, the day after we stayed at that guest house, I got quite sick and we presumed it might have been food poisoning. It was really weird because nobody else in my family got it, and we all eat almost the exactly same things every day. Anyways, I had 24 hours where I felt horrible and it wasn’t a fun time at all. However, I am glad to be feeling much better now and we are continuing to be extremely careful with what we eat and filtering all of the water we drink.

Other than the day that I had food poisoning, we have all been quite healthy. We have hit a point where we are able to consume as much food as we want, and not have to worry at all. As we generally bike between 50 and 80 kilometers every day, we are very fit and we are constantly eating and drinking. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be able to eat the same way we do now once we get back. I sure hope so because I love to eat good food.

Coming into Laos was amazing. We had slowly been gaining elevating ever since the coast of Vietnam and we had an extremely fun downhill into the jungles of south-eastern Laos. It was crazy how drastic the changes from Vietnam to Laos were geographically. For the first day, we had quite a bit of elevation change and ended up doing quite a bit of climbing. However, what goes up has got to come down, so we had some really fun descents. I have been using my GoPro a bit more recently and it is fun to watch some of the videos I have taken while we are riding. I hope to create a video at the end of the trip with a bunch of the different footage I have from the different countries we have been through since I got the GoPro in Bangkok, Thailand. The GoPro was actually something I bought using my Christmas and Birthday money from my grandparents and I am glad with the way I spent the money. So if anything, that’s something I got as an indirect birthday present.

Out of all the countries we have travelled through in Southeast Asia, Laos has been the most peaceful and quiet of them all. It’s super interesting because the land is quite undeveloped and it is like we are stepping into the other Southeast Asian countries, except twenty years ago. Laos seems to be a bit of a mixture between different things we saw in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam and we are constantly being reminded of our experiences throughout the past few months. For example, the Laotian language is very similar to Thai and we are learning the numbers quite quickly. To add, they have sticky rice here, which we all really enjoy, except we haven’t seen it since Thailand. For the first few days, the majority of the people who lived in the towns were Vietnamese. There are also lots and lots of Buddhist Wats which we learned about in Cambodia. We are continuing to stay in hotels but we are starting to consider possibly talking to the monks that live in the Wat’s to see if we can camp there, like we did in Cambodia. The food continues to be really good and we are learning more about the Laotian cuisine every day. Although we haven’t been able to find our favorite snack of Banh Mi (Vietnamese Subs), we have rediscovered the ice-coffee stands where we can get a large cup of refreshment in the afternoons. Overall, Laos has been very interesting so far and I am really enjoying the peacefulness here.

I wanted to conclude by saying how happy I am to be celebrating my 17th birthday doing the things I love and spending it in Laos with my family. We have now cycled over 8,500 km and I can’t believe how much we have done in the past nine months of travelling. It amazes me how fast the time has gone by and it’s interesting to imagine that we will be back in Calgary in four months. We have been continuously talking about what it’s going to be like when we get back, but I’m doing my best to live in the moment as we travel the world meeting amazing people, visiting beautiful countries, and having the time of our lives.

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