It was in dusty Vientiane – perhaps the most provincial of all the capitals I've seen – that we hooked up with a friend of mine from New York who was backpacking around southeast Asia. One of the afternoons in Vientiane, we decided to check out the herbal massage and sauna at a Buddhist temple outside of town recommended by our guidebook as the most traditional around. So, off we were in a tuk-tuk to the forested temple of Wat Sok Pa Luang.

The next thing you know: we're up in a sort of a tree house where a couple of smiling Lao ladies order us to strip into a sarong, push us into a pitch-dark wooden cabin with heavy herbal scents and a bunch of benevolent eyes you can half-discern through the steamy air. Just as I am starting to feel faint, we're invited back out and onto the massage table, where I am treated to what is probably, to this day, the most vigorous massage of my life. It all happened very fast, without words, and with a sense of surreal comedy about it. We laughed the entire tuk-tuk ride back into town.

After the short stay in Vientiane, the three of us hired a driver to take us up to the Buddhist mecca of Luang Prabang on the Mekong River. With the only buses up north running at night, we didn't want to skip what was apparently some of the most beautiful scenery in Laos. So we splurged on a private drive – definitely worth it! The nine-hour jaunt was packed with stomach-churning twists and turns through the mountains and a few unexpected adventures. At a tiny village where we paused en route, we accidentally stumbled into an impromptu karaoke session in somebody's hut. Suddenly, we were a part of the afternoon party, dancing with a pair of grinning ladies, a lone drunk (or opium-high) man and a group of kids watching us in giggles.

Continue reading on everthenomad

Comments by other travellers

There are no posts. Why not be the first to have your say?

Post a comment

I want to
My comment - optional
Rating - how would you rate this place or experience?

About this author

  • Anja Mutic

    I'm a traveler who writes and a writer who travels. I travel to make a living, I write to travel, I live to take the next trip.…

Also by this author

  • Why I love Bolivia

    As a travel writer, one of the questions I get asked all the time is: "What is your favorite country?"

  • Monkey Mind in Chiang Mai

    A couple of days ago, in the town of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, I went out one evening to visit a Buddhist wat for a chat with the monks and some guided meditation. I got out of my tuk tuk on a quiet street of what looked like a one-street village,

  • South Africa though Street Art

    I walked away from my recent trip to South Africa emotional, contemplative, quiet. While my first ever safari experience, in Sabi Sand Game Reserve, was one of the most adrenaline-filled fun jaunts of my worldwide travels, what really touched me – more th

  • The Markets of Angola

    I've wandered many markets of the world – strolled through the souks of Morocco, roamed the rickety stalls of Phnom Penh's Russian Market and shopped for talismans at the Witches' Market in Bolivia's La Paz.

Latest travel blog posts