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Luang Prabang is a big city in Laos. The food market is amazing and you can have some drinks with friends at night (the bar and nightlife industry was brought by western people to Laos). It's a platform where you can meet many backpackers to join for new adventures!
2014-11-16_Luang-Prabang
2014-11-16_Luang-Prabang
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After Hmong New Year in Phonsavan Sam and I went to Thakhek where we met Lisa, Patrick, Melanie and Tahmee. However I zqnt to skip this part because first I want to write two articles and make one video about #TheLoop and #KonglorCave .

Instead, here is some picture about #DonDet where I celebrated Lao Independance Day! Enjoy

#Laos
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2014-12-02_Don-Det
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With Sam, we were lucky enough to participate to #HmongNewYear in #Phonsavan . It only takes place at the end of the harvesting season and last at least 3 weeks between November and December.

Hmong from different clans meet during this celebration and each player throw the Hmong ball to another one. Girls can ball toss with other girls but boys cannot ball toss to boys. If a player drops the ball, he/she has to give an ornament to the other player. Those are recovered by singing a love song to the opposite player.

We did't really understood what was going on but after a look on Wikipedia about Hmong Customs and cultures I understand better. The customs were really nice and the two english speaking teenagers with us  really helpful!

#clavtravel  
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2014-11-23_Hmong-New-Year
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I met Sam during my second Staying in Nong Khiaw. Together we decided to leave our group of friends after Luang Prabang (Tahmee, Melanie, Lisa and Patrick) to follow our common archeological and historical purposes in #Phonsavan  
Phonsavan is famous for three things: The #PlainOfJars  (soon UNESCO World Heritage) and the Indochinese War Sites .
Phonsavan is the most heavily bombed place in the world with an average of a bombing mission every 8 minutes 24h a day for 9 years from 1964 to 1973 bu USA due to its strategic importance. Even if UXO are getting removed since the end of the Second #IndochinaWar NEVER GO AWAY FROM THE BEATEN TRACKS. 80 000 000 bombies (1/3) remain undetonated. Massive quantities of defoliants and herbicides were dropped as well.

The second Indochina war turned the Plain of Jars into the Plain of Scars. Some poor villages use UXO and other war scrap as building materials or features. Some others melt the metal from those war scraps to make spoons.

Last but not least, HmongNewYear is the third famous attraction in Phonsavan. The next album will show you more about!

#Laos 
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2014-11-20_Phonsavan
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#KuangSi Waterfall is the most famous waterfall around #LuangPrabang and it's also a conservation center for the Asian Bear. This specy is illegaly hunted for it's bile (nowadays bile's properties are less efficient than medical treatment but believes and cultures don't change like that). We extract the bile from the bear everyday while it's enduring terrible pain and life in a small cage. More information at www.freethebears.org.au

#clavtravel  
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2014-11-17_Kuang-Si-waterfalls
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#TadSae , one of the dozen waterfalls you will find around #LuangPrabang  
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2014-11-16_Tad-Sae-waterfalls
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#MuangNgoy is certainly one of the most remote villages in Lao. Indeed, the only access to the village is by boat and it takes 1.5h from Nong Khiaw to get there. Even if the tourism industry is getting more involve, you can still appreciate the local lifestyle, especially in the small villages further in land such as Huay Bo and Bam Na. In these two villages there is no electricity so you will rediscover a candlelight diner.
Again, the landscapes are otherwordly and it's easy enough to interact with the locals. Perhaps you will do a Karaoke after you've been seated around the table eating local food and drinking litres of Beer Lao!

#clavtravel  
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2014-11-10_Muang-Ngoi
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Traveling can be really intense... I haven't uploded a single picture for a month! As you guess, we have a lot to catch up!
Let's start with Nong Khiaw, my favourite spot in Lao. #NongKhiaw is located 3.5h north of Luang Prabang and it's a lovely village where time really stops. I spent first 2 days and then 4 days after Muang Ngoy to explore a cave and run up to the View Point early in the morning: the sea of clouds couldn't wait longer! The scenary is magical and cqn be a serious competitor to the South Island of New Zealand.

#clavtravel  
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2014-11-08_Nong-Khiaw
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I've been in Laos for 8 days now. I'm always moving, always capturing life moments and sceneries and meeting travelers from all around the world to spend a few days together before our plans split.
I met Emiel and Joost in the mini Van from Houay Xai to Luang Nam Tha and these guys had the same plan than I do: Going to Muang Sing (which is also one of the gateway to China) for a couple of days by motor bike.
After an issue with one rental shop (the bikes never had service: breaking pads completely worn out, low pressure tires, leak,...) we decided to go somewhere else. This time we got really nice bikes, 3 brand new Yamaha Spark 115i (injection= huge fuel savings=better for the environment). 3 litres should be more than enough for 140 km.

Happy to ride a bike again, I'm going faster than my two traveler mates who don't have as much experience as I do. Somehow they're doing the right thing by going slower.

Working in Australia 60h/week for 4 months took me back to who I was before I started traveling. I only think about going to B but traveling is not about the destination, it's about what happens between A and B. I have time, I should take my time.
I turn around to find where Joost and Emiel are. They were just taking pictures. Traveling is about curiosity and a village (Ban Paknamleuang) caught our attention. 2 small kids 10m away welcome us with the cutest "Sabai dee" ever and when we respond them they start laughing. This place seems cool, let's go down the street.

Animals are completely free: no cage, no leash, no collar. One rooster start going up the stair case separating the house from the ground and go inside without being kicked out! Animals and men are even.

Further down the main street is a school. So far, this is my favorite moment in Northern Laos. No beging, just smiling and curiosity. Every word we say in English with the corresponding gestures to be understood is following by whispers and laughs from the kids. Later they ask us to follow them into the school and show us where to seat. I see they know how to make origami and just that fascinate me. Laos Kids don't draw clouds in their drawing, they draw mountains. The youngest kids are speechless and can't stop staring at us because we are so different than everything they know.
Outside the classroom are some of the girls dancing their own choregraphy. Kids have everything they need here, they are really happy and cheerful.

On the otherhand there are really poor village where kids start running after you to ask you money or food. Once you buy a bunch of banana, kids start taking them from you and eat them and say thanks later.
I found that weird since they have banana and other fruits in the jungle around. Are they not allowed to eat them? I've no idea.

Around 2pm we decide to stop in a village to eat in a restaurant but the view of a girl drowing the rats in a tab full of water was a appetite suppressant. Emiel will be happy with only one bag of crisps.

Muang Sing is not far away but irregular rain showers slow us down a lot. Joost and Emiel don't have a rain coat and start getting cold. A local invited us to come under his roof and wait for the rain to stop. We played with their kids during this time. He was really funny. Once the rain is over, we thank our host and his family and leave. Hopefully we won't get wet anymore. The river is completely red and goes fast. This is wonderful with all the green trees around. Muang Sing is just 8km away now.

When we arrive, we discover the locals swiping both sides of the road. It's also the first time I've seen a motorized cultivator transformed into a tractor. That's pretty cool! We will spend a couple of days here walking into other poor or friendly villages and then drive to the Chinese Border as well as watch another lantern festival before going back to Luang Nam Tha. Unfortunatelly this one shutted down really early while we were driving in its direction. Instead, we will party a couple of hours with Laos and Chinese People really curious but so friendly and respectful before going back to our amazing Guest House: Adima.

I start to understand why Laos PDR trully means Laos Please Don't Rush. If you want to appreciate this country, take things slowly.

#Laos #MuangSing #clavtravel #rhizo14 #globalclassroom  
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2014-11-05-07_Muang Sing
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