Kuang Si Falls

The Kuang Si waterfalls near Luang Prabang

The Kuang Si waterfalls near Luang Prabang

I’d been excited to visit Luang Prabang and the surrounding area since hearing about it from several travelers in Vietnam, and the UNESCO heritage town certainly did not disappoint. The Kuang Si waterfalls about 35km outside of town are the most popular attraction and are easily reached with one of the ubiquitous tuk tuk drivers. While the falls themselves are beautiful, more impressive for me were the smaller, terraced, turquoise waterfalls below which reminded me a bit of Pamukkale in Turkey. There were swimming holes as well and the more adventurous visitors jumped off rocks and trees, doing flips into the chilly water. There was also a fairly challenging hike (at least it was a challenge in the mud with flip flops on!) to the top of the falls and excellent views of the surrounding mountains.

I found a great group of people from my hostel to go with and we had an amazing day hiking, swimming, and watching the bears and the Tat Kuang Si Rescue Center which is right next to the waterfalls.

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Walking to Cat Cat

Posing with the Tien Sa waterfall

Posing with the Tien Sa waterfall in Cat Cat

The town of Cat Cat lies just a few kilometers outside Sapa Town, down a valley. It’s rather touristy and filled with cheap souvenir stalls and persistent motor bike drivers, but if you can ignore that then you’ll be treated to gorgeous views of rice paddies and the Tien Sa waterfall. It was a good way to spend an afternoon!

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Hiking the Olympic Trail in Hong Kong

Sitting near the Mui Wo waterfalls

Sitting near the Mui Wo waterfalls

After a magnificent three weeks in Turkey I flew to Hong Kong to visit Jane and James, who I had taught with in Colombia last year. I’d never been to eastern Asia before and I tried to keep my mind open and eliminate expectations. I was glad to have some friends to show me the ropes!

What surprised me most about Hong Kong was how green it is. I had images of horrendous traffic, bright lights, and crowded buses in my mind, and that is indeed true in the center of the city. But just a short ferry ride away is Lantau Island, home to long hiking trails and brilliant coastal views. The Olympic Trail is just one of these trails. From the Mui Wo ferry terminal it’s a short, clearly-signposted walk to the beginning of the trail, where you’ll be treated with the Mui Wo waterfalls. Then, you can hike up a fair number of stairs to get a view of the harbor, and then continue along deeper into the island toward Pak Mong. I branched off the Olympic Trail to take a less-developed country trail, where I found myself quite isolated for several kilometers.

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