Nong Khiaw // take II

A few weeks ago, back when we were still in beautiful Laos, Luke looked over at me and said, 'Let's go to Nong Khiaw?' I knew it would be impossible to top my time in Nong Khiaw with Dora and Touk, but I was beside myself with excitement at the thought of seeing Nong Khiaw with a new set of eyes and a different adventure buddy.

We caught a tuk-tuk to the Northern bus station where we hopped in a crowded minivan. It was not the smooth journey I experienced with the girls. There were many stops along the way and the driver took his sweet time getting to Nong Khiaw. 4 hours later, we made it. Relieved, sweaty and hungry, we arrived in that peaceful little town between mountains. 

After a quick meal, Luke decided the best way to let our food digest was to brave the 1.5-hour hike straight up the mountain to the viewpoint. This time I knew what to expect. So, I laced up my Nikes. 

We arrived at the very top in just under an hour {howwww??!!!} and hoped to take in the sunset. Unfortunately, two giant mountains were situated right in front of where the sun was sinking and so we missed it. Seeing the view from the evening was a different kind of beautiful. 

Word of caution: if you don't have a torch, make sure you have a Luke. Traveling back down the mountain at night in the pitch black without more than Luke's phone right after a hard rain was not for the faint of heart. Once we had returned to the bottom, Luke admitted there were a few "things" that had darted out in the dark across the trail that he pretended not to see so I wouldn't be scared. Classy guy, that Tavener. 

We grabbed some insanely cheap Indian food after showers and then headed back to the riverside bungalows for a late night chat on the front porch.

Luke is someone I don't talk much about on the blog, but he has been a big part of my life. He was my neighbour in the staff house, my co-worker, my friend, and my hero in times of distress, like when a spider the size of my face ran across my wall and then disappeared {probably to lay eggs in my brain}. Getting to know him in these different ways has allowed me to know Luke better than I did while we were volunteering last year.  

What I appreciate most about Luke is how much he cares about his students. It's easy to say after watching him in the front of a classroom that Luke was made to teach. Made to make some kind of positive impact on peoples' lives. Watching him care about the people around him is pretty wonderful. He truly invests in his local community. He reminds me what I capable of and that we should all try to make a bigger impact. 

The next day came too soon. Luke and I made the most of it by riding rented mountain bikes to the famous caves {this time I made it all the way through without the locals asking for money!} and down the unpaved roads around the villages outside of Nong Khiaw. 

We didn't top the hilarity of my girl's weekend in the sleepy little town {not possible}, but my happiness was absolutely matched. I left Nong Khiaw sweaty, tired, but ready to take on another week of work in Luang Prabang. 

I'm no longer in Malaysia or Hong Kong or Tokyo. I am no longer in Laos. I'm back in America now, with big plans I can't wait to fill you all in on {yes, I will tell you all about visa I mentioned a few posts back soon} and my second ever case of true jet lag {why I'm up typing this at 4:20 a.m.}. 

The adventure continues. And as always, I'll be writing about all of it.