Untethered again: A goodbye to Laos, and the next adventures

A baci ceremony in Luang Prabang, Laos

It’s that time again. My room is barren, and most of my possessions have been whittled down into what fits inside my backpack. In a few hours, I’m flying to a completely new country, and hitting the road again for more than a month. It’s always sad to leave a place that’s become a home, but now it’s time: I find myself researching hostels and daydreaming about waking up in new cities, baffling and unknown cities, cities just waiting to be discovered – and know this is right. Time for the next adventure!

Silk spinning at Ock Pop Tok's Living Craft Centre in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang royal ballet performance

What’s next

It took a while to decide between visiting southern Laos or visiting Cambodia once I leave Luang Prabang, but I finally decided on the latter – the draw towards Angkor Wat was too big to ignore. After travelling through Cambodia to Phnom Penh, I’m heading to Vietnam for three weeks…but not alone. My best friend Honore is coming with! I cannot WAIT. We’ll start in Ho Chi Minh City and then head all the way up to Hanoi, and I’m going to try and get into the further removed tribal regions in the northwest once she leaves me (boooooo) to go back to work.

But then, after Vietnam, it gets a bit…crazy. But what else could I expect, after the way this past year has already gone?

From Vietnam, I’m flying to Dublin, to attend TBEX and visit one of my best friends from Seoul. I’ll be in Ireland for a week, enjoying the autumn weather and all that Guinness, and then…and then…AND THEN!!

Joma Cafe in Luang Prabang

I’m moving to Melbourne!!

My application for the work visa went through, so I’m all set to fly to Australia and make a new home in a new country. I am OBSCENELY excited. There’s still a part of me debating between Melbourne and Tasmania (have I mentioned how I love farms?), but my heart is craving the adventure of being in a big city, with creativity swirling, the chance to go to slam poetry nights and bellydance classes, to walk past buildings heavy with street art, and maybe even to live in a big house with crazy roommates. Who knows? And on the way over from Ireland to Australia, I’ve got a long layover in Abu Dhabi. The adventures are building.

Also, I never really cared about frequent flyer miles before, but after using the miles I had from a promotion to find a ticket making this insane upcoming world trip possible…I’m officially a believer.

Art in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang's old city

What I’ll miss

Some days, I still can’t believe my luck that I found this summer job in Luang Prabang. It gave me a home, a schedule, a bit of savings, and a group of seriously kickass people around me. 3 months was the perfect amount of time to get to know this city, and though I am ready to move on and explore new places, there are a few things I’ll miss.

The beauty is one. Seriously, I could never get tired of looking at this town. Walking along the riverbanks, looking out at the villages along the shores, old French colonial roofs peeking out from behind that jungle foliage of bamboo, teak, banana, coconut, and mango trees…there’s such magic here, in this memory of Indochina. Luang Prabang is, without a doubt, the prettiest place I’ve ever lived.

Luang Prabang sunset from Wat Chompet

I’ll miss the sound of temple drums at 4 every day, and waking up to gamelan music coming through my windows from the nearby temple on Buddha days. I’ll miss how easy it is to get into the rural villages, to ride down dirt roads past rice fields to check out pottery workhops or see dudes on elephants just amblin’ down the street. I’ll even miss how small this town is, how often you run into friends on the street, and going to bars and restaurants and seeing people you know.

Partying in Luang Prabang Lao Lao Gardens Bar in Luang Prabang

Redbul bar in Luang Prabang Lao Lao Gardens Bar in Luang Prabang

But most of all – of course, always, it’s the one element that really makes or breaks a place – I’ll miss the people (…and my office cats). Lao and American and French and Irish and a smattering of other nationalities, there’s a strange international family here in Luang Prabang. A friend asked me last night if I was sad to leave; I said, ‘Not to leave here, but to leave you.’ I’m thankful for the people I’ve met here, and the crazy adventures we’ve shared (long nights of Lao line dancing included), but I know that my next home is just a month away. Who knows what that adventure will hold?

So now, to the airport. It’s that time again.

Peace out, Laos, and kop chai deu.

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33 Responses to Untethered again: A goodbye to Laos, and the next adventures

  1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures 1 September, 2013 at 08:18 #

    Such a dream destination for me!!!

    • Naomi Alyssa 3 September, 2013 at 12:03 #

      Luang Prabang? It’s magic. SHEER magic!

  2. Dustin 2 September, 2013 at 02:04 #

    Somehow I haven’t quite managed to make it to LP yet…

    Second pic is great Naomi! Loving the motion blur.

    • Naomi Alyssa 3 September, 2013 at 12:03 #

      Thanks buddy, that means a lot, coming from you! ;) That shot is actually SOOC – she was spinning red thread dyed from sappan trees and it had the best, best colour.

  3. Nicola 2 September, 2013 at 05:51 #

    Safe travels lovely friend! You always have a place to stay with me if your travels take you my way. xx

  4. Rika | Cubicle Throwdown 2 September, 2013 at 10:56 #

    How exciting!! Looking forward to following your adventures in Melbourne! I hear it’s a great city.

  5. Lindsey 2 September, 2013 at 11:57 #

    Sounds like you’ve got a pretty full schedule ahead of you! You’re going to love Melbourne.

    • Naomi Alyssa 3 September, 2013 at 12:04 #

      Well, I just hope it loves me back and sets me up with a job quickly, ha ;) Cannot WAIT!!

  6. Jessica J. Hill 3 September, 2013 at 05:06 #

    I know that bittersweet feeling you describe. It’s so hard to leave the wonderful people, but the new adventure and thrill of the unknown on the horizon are too good to pass up! Luang Prabang, I agree, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I’d visit again in a heart beat!

    You’ll love Cambodia, too, especially Angkor Wat. If you’re traveling overland, you should stop at the 4,000 Islands in Southern Laos (it’s on the way and it’s totally worth it for a coupe chill out days).

    Can’t wait to hear about Australia as well! Look at you go!

    • Naomi Alyssa 3 September, 2013 at 12:05 #

      Actually, I skipped the 4000 Islands to go to Cambodia…very hard decision to make, but I’m in Siem Reap now, and it was definitely the right one!

      Besides, this just means I have another reason to go back to Laos some day ;)

  7. This Battered Suitcase 4 September, 2013 at 21:08 #

    This is awesome. Melbourne is so cool, I could see myself living there, too. Your photos are making me want to go back to LP, though! Can’t wait to see you in Dublin xx

    • Naomi Alyssa 5 September, 2013 at 23:46 #

      Can’t wait either! It’s gonna be epic!! ;)

  8. Ekua 5 September, 2013 at 13:21 #

    You are all over the place! I admire your ability to just pack up and move around the world. Melbourne sounds awesome, I always meet the most interesting Australians from there and I hear it’s similar to SF.

    • Naomi Alyssa 5 September, 2013 at 23:47 #

      Thank you kindly Ekua…if I can do it, anyone can! And I’ve been getting that impression of Melbourne too – especially when I see the food prices! ;)

  9. Rachel 12 September, 2013 at 03:52 #

    So happy to have found this blog! Very jealous of your time in Laos, it’s somewhere I’d love to go to (and I was soo close recently, kind of frustrating). I have just got back from Vietnam and Cambodia – have written up the Vietnam part on my blog so far so feel free to go and have a look :)
    Happy travels! xx

    • Naomi Alyssa 13 September, 2013 at 20:32 #

      Thank you kindly Rachel – definitely hit up Laos the next time you’re in the area! It’s got a permanent spot in my heart now…can’t wait to read your stories about Vietnam!

  10. Julian 16 September, 2013 at 05:22 #

    Hi Naomi,

    Do you stay mostly in youth hostels (and the like) during your journeys?

    What is your general advise on the safety of valuable items? As this would be my first time backpacking abroad, I am quite averse to bringing along my bulky camera and laptop.

    I am also unsure whether storing all your stuff in the hostel locker is really safe– I understand some hostels merely have a common locker room.

    Any help/ input is appreciated. Thanks.

    Julian

    • Naomi Alyssa 7 November, 2013 at 07:34 #

      Julian! Apologies for the late reply; a life upheaval has been taking place. Yes, I mostly stay in youth hostels, when I’m not Couchsurfing or staying with friends. Good hostels will supply a locker, but make sure to bring your own lock. There are some that just have a common locker room, and really range in security. However…….

      If there’s one thing I can recommend, it’s to buy a portable safe. I spent the past year of travel carrying around ALL my valuables – camera, lenses, laptop, external harddrive – and none of them were every stolen. When at a hostel, I locked them up in a portable safe I had from Pacsafe. It’s essentially a cloth bag with a mesh endoskeleton – lightweight, rolls up to fit in your backpack, but cut-proof! I LOVE it. Normally, I would attach this under my bed, or in the case of a top-bunk, in the bed with me. I also slept with my purse in the bed with me. Nothing was ever stolen. So go out there and enjoy! :)

      • Julian 14 November, 2013 at 00:11 #

        Thanks for the reply dear Naomi, at least you are one of the few ‘travel bloggers’ who is courteous to respond.

        I do have a quick question, if you don’t mind : How much did you typically spend on food while in Tbilisi?

        Do you think a budget of $15-20 (US Dollars) a day on food would suffice (I am not too picky, but would like to taste the local foods)?

        Julian

        • Julian 14 November, 2013 at 00:16 #

          Reason I’m asking is because there doesn’t seem to be enough write-ups and reviews on this beautiful city, and you are one of the few who has actually been there :)

          • Naomi Alyssa 15 November, 2013 at 20:28 #

            Oh God, yes. I was spending 15$ a day on LIFE while in Tbilisi. Food is incredibly cheap, even if you go out to restaurants – from what I remember, it was typical to pay something like 2-4 dollars for an entree at a restaurant. Fruit and veg are in abundance, and cheap at the markets. Not to mention all the snacks like KHACHAPURI! Enjoy!! :)

  11. Claire 19 September, 2013 at 22:15 #

    I love your blog (and your whole outlook!). I hope you don’t mind, I’ve linked to a post of yours on my blog :) Can’t wait to keep reading about your adventures!

    • Naomi Alyssa 7 November, 2013 at 20:08 #

      Oh, thank you Claire!! Glad to have connected with you on Twitter, too…your stuff is pretty awesome ;)

  12. Sorin 20 September, 2013 at 03:05 #

    Congrats about the work visa in the Aussie land! Never heard something bad about Melbourne so enjoy it!

    • Naomi Alyssa 7 November, 2013 at 20:09 #

      Neither did I…and I still haven’t yet!! x

  13. Molly Yonderblog 8 October, 2013 at 03:36 #

    Best of luck in Melbourne! We lived and worked there for six months after six months in SE Asia and had an amazing time! You’ll never be bored, that’s for sure!

    • Naomi Alyssa 7 November, 2013 at 20:11 #

      That path seems to be so common for travellers to SE Asia; ain’t it crazy? Guess it makes sense, tho…the quality of life here is great!!

  14. Naomi 27 November, 2013 at 21:37 #

    I must admit that Laos is so beautiful and you sure had a great time. I will put it on my list of Places to Travel( hope soon). And great photography skills you got there. :) Great work.

  15. Nina 20 January, 2014 at 22:21 #

    It’s always sad and amazing to say goodbye…But it’s the life of a traveler. I’m just getting around to writing about my trip to Laos!

    http://whereintheworldisnina.com/caving-vang-vieng-laos/

    • Naomi Alyssa 6 February, 2014 at 15:50 #

      Ha, Moon Pub?! Ah Vang Vieng…such a different world. ;)

  16. Sunil Tamang 26 March, 2014 at 14:25 #

    Back in 2011, I reached to Thailand but couldn’t make my way to Laos. Its always been my dream destination and looking forward to travel there soon. :)

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