Northern Laos Part III: A Perfect Day in Muang Ngoi

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Muang Ngoi’s spectacular riverside location—C.Helbig

We were loath to leave Nong Khiaw (see Parts I and II) and wondered whether Muang Ngoi, just an hour upstream on the Nam Ou, could hold as much appeal. It did, and perhaps even a tad more. Like Nong Khiaw, its riverside location and mountain scenery are stunning, but Muang Ngoi is smaller and even more basic and laid back. Mike and I agree that our favourite day of our travels through Cambodia and Laos was in Muang Ngoi: relaxing, hiking, caving, kayaking, and shopping for weavings (well, that last one was more up my alley).

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Categories: Activities, Kayaking, Laos, Places | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Northern Laos Part II: Hike to Phadeng Peak Viewpoint, Nong Khiaw

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At the Nong Khiaw viewpoint—C.Helbig

If you only do one activity while visiting Nong Khiaw (other than lying in a hammock admiring the view) it should be hiking to Phadeng Peak viewpoint. I heard lots of excuses for not doing it: it’s too hot, cold, difficult, steep, early, late…Mike used a combination of these to talk himself out of the hike. I remember the regretful look on his face when he scrolled through my photos. He hadn’t expected the views to be that stunning (nor had I). Don’t miss out on this activity when you’re in Nong Khiaw. It’s well worth the roughly one hour uphill grunt, and the effort needed is not nearly as bad as many reviewers make it out to be. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, Hiking, Laos, Places | Tags: , , , | 37 Comments

Northern Laos Part I: Nong Khiaw

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Looking up river from the bridge in Nong Khiaw—C.Helbig

We had many great experiences in Cambodia and Laos, but my favourite was the time we spent in northern Laos, in the small villages of Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi. Coming from predictable, orderly Vancouver I enjoy the “chaos” of cities in SE Asia. However, the reality is I can only handle so much Bangkok, Phenom Penh, or even Siam Reap. The natural beauty and peacefulness of northern Laos made me very happy. Our visit to Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi was the perfect complement to a wonderful trip that was heavy on culture, history, and urban centres. Part I of my series on northern Laos features Nong Khiaw. Continue reading

Categories: Laos, Places | Tags: , , , , , | 34 Comments

Bangkok, Cambodia & Laos Trip Report: Reflections

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Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew—C.Helbig

I am tempted to launch right into my favourite day of our month-long trip that included Bangkok and a sampling of Cambodia and Laos. But, I feel a stronger need to put chronological order and reflection into this first of a series of posts. I’ve tried to find one photo and write one paragraph that summarize my (and usually Mike’s) overriding, totally subjective takeaway on each of the places we visited. If you want to find out about my favourite day, you can scroll down to the end. If you can hang in there, please follow our journey. There’ll be lots more to come about the exotic attractions of these friendly, great value travel destinations. Continue reading

Categories: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Yant Flat, Dixie National Forest, Utah: Sandstone Drama

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“Quilted” Navajo sandsone at Yant Flat—C.Helbig

It was a fitting end to our last day in southern Utah: a little adventure, some drama, and a whole lot of natural beauty at Yant Flat, in Dixie National Forest near the town of Leeds. During our trip, I had become obsessed with the Dr.Zeuss-like playgrounds of swirling, colourful Navajo sandstone found in these parts. Meghan from Another Walk in the Park recommended Yant Flat (she has three great posts about the place). Yant Flat may not have quite the grandeur of South Coyote Buttes or White Pocket, but it does not require a permit, it’s easier to access, and is totally awesome. Continue reading

Categories: Hiking, Places, United States | Tags: , , | 29 Comments

Kolob Terrace Road, Zion National Park: Guns, Scenic Drive, and Mini Hikes

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Scenic Kolob Terrace Road—C.Helbig

We’re just back from Cambodia and Laos but my photos (and I) are still an unorganized mess, so I’m going to do a couple of posts to finish off my southern Utah series. I’m usually not a fan of car sightseeing, preferring to walk/ride, but Kolob Terrace Road, in Zion National Park, is a real gem. It starts in the town of Virgin, not far from Zion’s main visitor center, and is only 21 miles to Lava Point, one of the highest spots in the park. Kolob Terrace Road makes a great half-day excursion with plenty of short scenic hikes and viewpoints to give your legs a stretch.The majority of Zion visitors overlook this section of the park, so it’s gloriously peaceful. Continue reading

Categories: Hiking, Places, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Pa’rus Trail, Zion National Park: Not Just Another Walk in the Park

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The Pa’rus Trail, Zion National Park, Utah—C.Helbig

I’m a little obsessed about making sure I get enough exercise. Sometimes I “miss-out” on beautiful trails because I dismiss them as too easy.  After our wonderful hike to Observation Point in Zion National Park, Mike and I hopped onto the park shuttle bus to take us back to our car at the visitor center. It was such a gorgeous day we decided to get off a couple of stops early, at Canyon Junction, and walk the rest of the way along the Pa’rus Trail. Great decision! The late day lighting was stunning and it was the perfect, peaceful, cool-down walk. We enjoyed it so much we did it twice more during our stay at Zion.  Continue reading

Categories: Activities, United States | Tags: , , , , | 32 Comments

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