Studio Everywhere

One of the best surprises – KUANG SI WATERFALL in Laos

By Michael Orwick

I have to be very honest with you…

Even up to the night we arrived in Laos, I had no idea what to expect, I knew so little about this place. I did no research and did not even remember why we had added it to our list of countries to visit.

Our tiny 30 seat plane landed in Luang Prabang after dark, and it was obvious this was a quiet place with only one other plane parked on the tarmac, and most of the airport lights turned off.

Somehow this all felt strangely right – we had been traveling for 5 months, and a few quiet weeks sounded perfect.

Luang Prabang was a revelation of relaxation, with not much to do but walk around town, eat delicious food, and hang out.  And because the wifi was so bad, we did not even feel bad about not working.

The town is beautiful, with a combination of French and traditional Laos building styles.  The same combination also exists in the food and drinks.
The mighty Mekong River flows along and around the town, dividing it from a few rural villages, which specialize in weaving silk tapestries and putting various types of reptiles and insects into bottles of home brewed whiskey.

We met another family traveling for a year with their two energetic kids, ages 8 and 10. We all instantly hit it off,  and after sharing a few meals together and stories of how things had gone on the road so far, we were all ready for a new adventure.  We had once again become antsy for something different. And it was time to explore a little further out.

What the locals call “The Falls”, is misleading in the most under-selling sort of way.

It was a short and cheap tuk-tuk ride through the countryside.

We parked at a fairly nondescript small village that looked as if it’s sole purpose was to sell stuff to tourists. We took a muddy root-covered path a short distance to a bear rescue with some surprisingly cute and healthy looking critters.

When we walked a little further through the woods and found this pool I was so excited! Again having done no reasearch I thought this was it, this was “The Falls” and it was beautiful.
The cascading water passing between elegant trees, the cool Aqua water was most inviting, despite the fact that it was still early and sort of cool. But we decided to see what else was up the trail first.

And it was great, each turn in the path – a new discovery.

It was if this place had been designed by a crazed creator who did not suffer any restraints or inhibitions when it comes to color or light. It was almost too much for me. I could not decide what to do first. Do I take photos, swim, or keep exploring?

I’ll just go a little further, I kept telling myself, not wanting to miss any of it.

Then Boom! Five pools later, or about 10 minutes of hiking there it was…”The Falls!”

It was truly too much!

The way the light was hitting these beautifully designed falls all cascading into the cool mint greenish blue pools!

It was too much and my artist brain exploded.

And I died.


The end.

But the 11 year old little boy in me was still alive and thrilled to get into the water and swim the day away with my family and our new friends. And that is exactly what I did.

No painting just playing and laughing and relishing the beautiful magic of it all.


4 thoughts on “One of the best surprises – KUANG SI WATERFALL in Laos

  1. Brady Webb

    I look forward to the first painting (of many???) of this insane place. Congratualtions on the new discovery- and thanks for sharing it so we might add it to our bucket list!

  2. Lola Dennis

    So BEAUTIFUL Michael. Thanks for sharing your adventure with all of us. So glad “the creator” brought you such joy and refreshment on your journey. I have seen photos of Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon that have a resemblance to these. So happy you had a refreshing day.

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