November 27, 2016.
It was a Saturday; an exceptionally wonderful Saturday spent in Luang Prabang, the UNESCO World Heritage city in Laos.
My friend and I were headed to Kuang Si Waterfall by a motorbike. The distance was about 32 kilometers from the city center. At breakfast, my friend asked the hotel employee regarding the route to the place. He ended his explanation with a cautionary note to be careful as the road was winding and that many foreigners who went there by motorbike had got into an accident. While I appreciated his advice, I could not help but feel a thin thread of fear creeping into me. We took off around 10AM. I must admit I was feeling slightly anxious as I had never ridden a motorbike in a foreign country before; plus, the traffic seemed a bit chaotic for me. However, I started to relax after a while, especially when we were exiting the city. Things slowed down, and I began to notice and appreciate what was going on in my surroundings. We passed a couple of temples constructed with intricate architectural details, little villages, green farms, down-to-earth local people selling their produce at roadside stalls…the transition from a frenzied city environment to a serene remote atmosphere was certainly something I welcomed with open arms. It did not take me long to realize just how beautiful and enjoyable the ride was. I remember feeling so happy, peaceful, grateful, immersed in the present moment, and connected to my wonderful friend. The ride reminded me of a powerful saying that goes ‘life is a journey, not a destination’. Just enjoy the ride :-).
We arrived at Kuang Si Waterfall an hour later. Waterfalls tend to disappoint me. I mean I have seen some before, and I was not very impressed. Perhaps I just have not seen enough to not be disappointed! Before reaching the waterfall, we had a little trip to a moon/sun bear sanctuary within the park. I did not expect this at all so it was definitely a nice extra. After a few minutes’ walk from the sanctuary, there was that often-talked-about Kuang Si Waterfall right before my eyes. And it was just the beginning of it. Was I disappointed this time? Absolutely not. It was THE most stunning waterfall I have ever laid my eyes on!!! Its beauty pleasantly shocked me, I must say. This multi-tiered waterfall with turquoise blue water was perfectly magical! I fell in love with it!
We got back to the city around 2PM. We still had an hour before we returned the motorbike to the rental agency. We decided to chill out at a little park overlooking the Nam Khan River. There were some little monks playing in the water, and a foreign couple swimming. It was quite a distance between them and us but I could tell they were having the time of their lives playing and swimming in the river. My friend and I decided to walk down to the river bank, to be closer to the fun they were in. I was amazed that these little monks were great swimmers at a young age! If only I could swim as well as they did, I would have liked to jump into the river from the bamboo bridge!!! Nevertheless, I had fun simply watching them having fun! It was pure joy, as if we were in our own little Nam Khan bubble separated from the city. Ahhh sometimes small moments like this are the greatest to be cherished for a very long time!
The rest of the day ticked away blissfully. It was the last day of our journey to discover this once-dubbed-the-‘Land of a Million Elephants’ country. I must say it was a perfect ending! My friend and I trekked through a dense forest in search of Akha experience in Muang Sing; ziplined and stayed at tree houses for the Gibbon experience; cruised down the mighty Mekong River from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang in slow boat. They were all amazing experiences. However, if someone asked what my highlight of the trip was, I would say ‘November 27, that Saturday’. I thank my wonderful friend for that priceless Saturday, for it all started with a motorbike ride to Kuang Si Waterfall.