"It's only 200 kilometers from Luang Prabang - how long could it possibly take?"
My last words before jumping on a minivan from Luang Prabang to Nong Kiau for a three day mountain biking expedition. Again, I should have knocked on wood...
Six sweaty hours with no air-conditioning, moving at the pace of a snail, and all kinds of random stops later we finally, finally arrived in Nong Kiau.
And, now for the good part. With feet firmly planted on solid ground, I took a deep breath, looked up and realized why it was all worth it. Yet again, speechless. Complete sensory overload. Jagged limestone cliffs for as far as the eye can see with each peak hovering higher and higher above the rushing Nam Ou River.
And, the greenery - greens like I've never seen before with bright pinks, purples, blues and yellows seemingly thrown in for fun.
We found a lodging home base (the lovely Nong Kiau River Side Eco-Lodge - www.nongkiau.com) and set off on three day-long mountain biking trips into the countryside. Sometimes it rained. Sometimes it was so hot that I could barely breath. But, none of that mattered. What mattered were the small village children that ran up to give us flowers as we passed by, and the astoundingly beautiful countryside with unforgettable views. The rawness of it all. No electricity, no internet, no telephones, no nothing really - just raw kindness and beauty. The stuff my dreams are now made of.