30th of September 2011
We woke up to realise we still had no idea where we were. We quickly dressed and went down stairs, where embarrassingly we asked the guy at the front desk where we were. He confirmed we were in Luang Prabang and then asked if we wanted to stay another night. We kindly refused and headed off into the heat with our backpacks to find the town centre. A quick tuk-tuk ride later and we realised we hadn’t been that far away. Two streets down and we were dropped off onto a long street, along which many food stands, restaurants, shops and tourists offices stood.
We sat down at one of the little sandwich stands and ordered two big sandwiches and some fresh juices, which we much appreciated whilst we planned our next move.
After a walk up and down the street we came across several guest houses, one of which was $5 a night (Souckkhaphol Guest House), simple and right on the main street. We took it.
Now from here on until our trip to New Zealand, I am sorry and embarrassed to say that I didn’t keep the blog up to date. Maybe some will be understanding as, we ended up having such a busy and marvellous time that time just seemed to fly by, without us realising it.
I will however do my best to give as good and detailed a summary as possible.
Whilst in Luang Prabang we got up to several unforgettable experiences.
For one, there was the afternoon that we spent with elephants. There were a lot of agencies organising days out with the elephants, including either Mahout training, bathing, feeding…etc. In the end we went with one of the cheaper companies called Phone Travel co. Ltd. It cost roughly 115.000 to 200.000kip each and included a day of elephant riding, feeding and bathing, a trip to the Pak Ou cave and the whisky village. We were looked after the whole day by young boys who jumped around, played with and controlled the elephants in an amazing way. The trek through the jungle was fun. I got to sit on its neck, whilst Nico sat in a seat above. The elephant’s neck was hot and very prickly. We went through the jungle, past open fields, with big boulders and then through the small village next to the elephants camp. There were six of us in all, two for each elephant. We were then taken to see Pak Ou Cave. A cave full of Buddha’s big and small, old and new.
After lunch we fed the elephants bananas and learnt how to ask them to sit so you could jump on their back, or lift up their front leg, so you could climb up that way. It was amazing. The best bit though happened after this, when it was time to take them bathing. We strode down to the Mekong river on their backs and the young boys began jumping from one elephant to another and doing back flips off their backs. They then made our elephants squirt us in the face and shake until we were thrown off, flying into the river. Their other trick was to go fully under water until only our head was visible. This went on for hours, with us crying out: “bundabun, bundabun”! This made the elephants squirt us. It was incredible! And we didn’t ever want it to end. But finally we were told it was over and time to go to the whisky village, our final trip of the day. We waved good-bye to the young boys, and hugged our elephants, sad to leave them behind. We tipped the boys too, as they had been so wonderful with us. It was a delight to see how happy and grateful they were.
The whisky village however, turned out to be closed or at least not in service, as they had had a shortage of rice in the past little while, so had not been able to continue making the alcohol. We bought several small bottles of the whisky, after having tried all of them, just as strong as each other. One had a snake in it, another, a scorpion and the third a giant centipede. You can never go wrong with a scary insect in some alcohol for a present.
Another unforgettable experience in Luang Prabang was the SAI waterfall. We shared a 45.000kip tuk-tuk to get there, with some fellow travellers and then 10.000kip boat ride to get down the river and back. The waterfall fell down several sets of what looked like steps, each layer forming a small pool for you to swim in. The bottom one was huge and if you swam strongly enough you could make it up close to the strong currents of gushing water and stick your head under the waterfall. The water was chilly but very enjoyable, so we spent quite some time trying out each pool. Little trees grew in and around the waterfall as well, giving the area a fairy tale like feel and beauty.
Our time in Luang Prabang came to an end quickly. We had spent most evenings walking down to buffet food market stands, where you could eat as much as you could of salads, noodles, fish and meat for 40.000kip. We also had the chance to enjoy the weekend night market, which spread out the entire length of the main street. Oh and last of all we got locked out of our own room one night, as we got back a little past 11pm and the guest house had shut its doors. It took us a good 30minutes of banging and trying to climb up to our balcony to get in.