To Houn and Back Part I / by Joshua P Jacks

One of my favorite experiences from our first few years in Laos was the trip I made to Houn District. One of our family’s closest friends, Singkham, was born and raised there. Singkham, Thieng, and I had a great time during that first Winter 2012 trip. I’ve been wanting to get back up there for the past few years and we were finally able to make it happen! 

Last month, along with my two friends and fellow teachers, Sean and Bruce, we made the trip north. Our plan was to meet Singkham in the city of Oudomxay, spend a day, and then head a few hours southwest to his Singkham’s village. 

Along with getting to spend some quality time with Singkham, who recently moved back to his hometown, we took this opportunity to capture as much of our trip on “film” as possible. With our busy schedules, we typically aren’t able to get away on a trip like this. With one week left of break before school started, this 4 day trip was an excellent opportunity to get as much footage and photography as possible. Our hope was to capture the beauty of Oudomxay Province. I hope that as you read the posts this place and people will capture your heart as it has mine! We’ll be splitting this post up into a few parts so that we can show you rather than just tell you. 

Luang Prabang to Muang Xay (Oudomxay City)

Luang Prabang to Muang Xay (Oudomxay City)

Roadside spirit house overlooking Oudomxay Province.

The drive to Oudomxay Province from Luang Prabang was pretty uneventful. We stopped a few times for some landscape shots and came across a roadside spirit house. The house had several pictures, soda cans, and food wrappers inside. These are typically located at accident sites for people to remember loved ones and to offer food, money, and merit for their journey through the afterlife.

After arriving in Oudomxay, we met up with Singkham for lunch and then headed over to Wat Phou Tat for some sunset shots. This mountain top temple overlooks  Muang Xay (Oudomxay City) and is one of the highest in all of Laos. We had a chance to sit down with one of the veteran monks there to talk about his story. He allowed us to interview him on camera for a future series on Lao Buddhism. It was great hearing about his journey and connecting with him on a personal level. This man represents thousands of monks in the nation of Laos looking for answers. Our hope is that he and the many like him will find the answer.

Buddha statue at Wat Phou Tat

Iphone shot of the interview.

Singkham chatting with our new friend after the interview.

Our new friend heading to the temple housing post interview.

Our first day ended with the four of us walking around town trying to find a place to eat. We found this little hole in the wall restaurant built into a woman’s home. After ordering, we pulled up trip advisor to find possible locations to visit the next morning. We found out that the restaurant we were eating in was ranked number one in the entire city! The food definitely didn’t disappoint and ambience definitely didn't disappoint!

Voted "Best Restaurant in Oudomxay"

The restaurant's owner, resident, and head chef.

This wraps up the first day and first part of the blog. I want to leave plenty of room for the pictures coming up. We should be posting the remaining 2-3 parts in the next week or so. For most of you, this will be your first experience in Northwestern Laos. I promise to pack it full of images from this amazing place. Stay tuned for the rest of To Houn and Back!