It’s not often I stand in the middle of a sprawling enclosure in the jungle, tossing buckets of smashed fruits and gruel mere seconds before moon bears will be set free to roam for food. I know I’m safe (the bears are contained until I return to the other side of the fence), and I even feel inspired, though I know I’m setting the bar high for the rest of the week. This one-of-a-kind experience is thrilling, far from the ordinary, and, for my first visit to Luang Prabang, Laos, exceeds my expectations. In fact, I truly had no idea how my trip to this off-the-beaten-path Southeast Asian country would pan out. I’ve frolicked white-sand beaches and indulged in cheap foot massages in Thailand. I’ve visited ancient temples and historic markets in Cambodia. I’ve even set sail on the Mekong River and explored world-renowned sites like Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. But Laos was never on my radar. The balmy destination unanimously known as “the forgotten country” gets little global attention, where it’s more popular bordering neighbors are traversed by millions of visitors a year.