• Tara B. Vasi

Day 24: Luang Prabang, Lao. Utopia Yoga, Hotel Thief, Waterfalls, No Thank you, Cave, Massage, Nap

My alarm goes off at 5am. We are supposed to buy rice and breads to feed the monks as they walk to the monastery, but I decide to shut off my alarm and go back to sleep. Luckily the majority of our group still goes, so the monks are well taken care of.

I wake up for yoga and briskly walk back to Utopia, where we were last night for dinner. I find the place no problem and everything definitely looks a little different in the light of day.

Mats are already set up, so I take my sweet tevas off and choose a mat close to the edge, because I like to live dangerously. I move towards Childs pose but recognize that is not the best posture for me today because of my groin and my foot. I lay on my back and scan my body even before class behinds and commit to working with my sensitivities and not pushing myself any further then my body will allow. The yoga teacher is a German volunteer and I make note to ask about their yoga teacher volunteer program at the end of class. Roosters are popping up in the back ground and I mentally call them out for being late.

The class is huge! I’d say 25-30 people and much bigger then I was expecting. Thats a win for yoga, I’d say. The class was good for me, as a teacher, because I know the poses, but there were a lot of beginners in the class and they seemed to have a hard time knowing what to do. I noticed the teacher didnt cue much or make adjustments. I tried not to pay attention to others, but I couldn’t shut it off! It hurt my soul to see some of the rounded spines in half way lifts, palms facing back in triangle and halfway heels in high lunge. The students didnt know! I am always learning so much, with ever class I take. I’m going to email and find out more about what this volunteer program is all about.

I hobbled back to the hotel and made sweet sweet love to the espresso machine. Olivia asked me if I heard the news, and for whatever reason, I thought something had happened to Sochea. It wasn’t him, but our friends Sam and Keavy had their room broken into in the middle of the night, while they were sleeping, and the thieves took both of their cell phones and Keavy’s wallet. The hotel has cameras and apparently the men had keys to every room and went in theirs because it wasn’t latched, and then escaped out the window before they even knew what was going on. They were both pretty freaked out. The cops were called and they wrote up a report. I am so glad Sam didnt wake up in the middle of the robbery and try to stop them. It could have been way worse, though still extremely unfortunate.

Everyone in the group is a little on edge and we all go back to our rooms and make sure all of our valuables are locked up in the security box. If the bad guys have keys to every room, do you think they will come back again tonight? Or know that now we are all on high alert and leave us alone?

We rent two Tuk Tuks and drive for an hour to the water walls. At the base of the mountain there is a bear rescue sanctuary where they take care of baby bears that lost their mothers to poaching. Theres is a bear that is pacing back in forth and then stands up on her hind legs. I remember learning that bears pace back and forth in captivity and I feel bad for the sweet angel because she seems so stressed out.

I turn around and everyone is gone which I don’t mind, and continue lone wolf style on my own for the day. I walk up a ways and see different little pools of blue water and many small waterfall. I continue to walk up and see the most massive and beautiful water fall. There are a bunch of people around and I love hearing their Ooh’s and Ahh’s. I am so bad at selfies, but try for one anyway.

I see a walk way to go to the top of the waterfall, so head in that direction. There is a line for the stairs, and I see a little path cleared over to the side, so I go for it and hope it leads to to the same place. It does not. I wind up hiking up the side of the mountain until a get to a clearing that says, “Caves and restaurant 3K away.” God dammit more caves, but might as well, I have come this far. I start walking down a dirt road and see a huge bright blue butterfly. I chase it down the path and try to take pictures of it, but it is reaaaally hard to take pictures of butterflies. We become pretty good friends, me and this butterfly. We continue together downtime path and then all of the sudden we are surround by a ton more butterflies, all different colors and shapes and sizes. They are flying all around me and its a magical moment that I will remember forever.

And then they all leave me, and I am stuck huffing toward this death cave that I don’t even want to go to. I get to the bottom of the stairs and see a lady. The first human I have seen in about 45 minutes. Its 10,000 kip to get into the cave. I reluctantly give her money. She hands me a head lamp and three bananas and I am considering why the bananas. Will I most likely get stuck in there and need sustenance? Do bats really enjoy bananas?

I was up the stairs to the cave, hoping there are other people there and lights like the last cave we went to. There are no people and no lights. I click my head lamp on and its quite dim. I flash it in towards the cave, and think, NOPE. And turn around and go back. I don’t even bother asking for my money back, I just hand her the light and pound sand.

I walk over to check the restaurant out and it is literally a man selling sour cream and onion lays potato chips. There is a really nice area over by the water that I check out. The water is crystal clear. This would be a nice place to meditate, but I have to go. I am supposed to meet everyone at the Tuk Tuk at noon and I have a feeling I am already going to be late. I head back down and run here and there because I don’t want to keep everyone waiting. At one point, I stop and look around and nothing looks familiar. I am in a small neighborhood. How the hell did I get lost coming down this mountain? I keep going, because at least I know I am going in the right direction and that is DOWN. I pop out in the center of the town south of where we were dropped off at the bottom of the waterfall. How the hell did that happen? Luckily I recognized a restaurant we drove by and then walked up the hill to meet the group. My legs were absolutely on fire from all the hiking. I was ten minutes late and everyone thought I was dead.

Nope, just really bad at directions.

We tuk tuk for an hour back to the hotel and I decide I need a massage, and stat. I walk down the street to a massage parlor and pay 100,00 kip for an hour Lao massage. The woman is smart and washes my feet first, and I can only imaging the process by which they determined they needed to clean travelers feet before being able to massage them. She rocked my world. I told her about my foot and she was incredibly mindful as to not press too much on the area. She worked into my hips well and my rombies. I felt so dazed when I left and that is a sign of a good massage. They had a bowl of cookies outside the door and I took three. They were coconut. I had to treat myself now, because the next two days we are going to be floating on the Mekong!

I see my friend bryony at a table enjoying lunch, and I say, “Hi friend,” and join her. I order a veggie and hummus wrap and its lame, so I take it to go, and head back to my hotel to close my eyes and rest.

I have the weirdest dream that I am floating above the ocean. I float towards the shoreline of what appears to be an island and see a beached whale. All of the sudden all of my belongings are now on the beach and people appear wanting to help the whale and I shout, “I can help too,” and run with a sheet or something to the whale, like I am going to slip it under neath and then we will all pull the whale back into the water. We save the whale, like its no thing and celebrate and high five. I look back towards my belongings and notice that they are all gone. A man appears and he offers to help me. I ask him where we are and he says something a name I don’t recall. At this point in the dream, I say to myself, I am dreaming. I am aware that I am dreaming and then I wake up. A minute later my nap time alarm goes off.

I decide to skip group dinner and instead opt to hang and relax a little longer, but meet up with the group a little later.

And blah blah blah... I can’t believe there’s only 6 days left on this tour!


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