Below My Feet

Elephant Ride - Luang Prabang

“I think the thing to do is to enjoy the ride while you’re on it.”

 – Johnny Depp

Today has served to consolidate the idea previously budding in my mind: Laos is my favourite destination from my selection that I’ve passed through on this trip through South East Asia. The beauty of the countryside is simply outstanding and the people here, in my opinion and from my experiences, are incredibly accommodating and generous.

A few of us were up before the sun this morning. We headed into the beautiful UNESCO sight of Luang Prabang town to watch the ‘giving of the alms’. This daily procession consists of the saffron-clad Buddhist monks of the local monasteries walking in their groups around the town to collect food offerings from the town’s people: the only meal they will eat all day.  It was a charming and humbling experience. Particularly touching was noticing the monks reverse the process in giving some of the food they’d received to the elderly beggars.

Giving of the alms Luang Prabang

Giving of the alms Luang Prabang

The next excursion I had my doubts about: an elephant trek with the ‘Mahout Eco Camp’.  My expectation of poorly treated animals and masses of tourists, however, was completely turned on its head. The elephants seemed at the height of health and very well loved. They’re left to roam free through the jungle throughout the day – only being called into the camp in the early morning for the rides. I asked if I could sit on the Elephants neck as opposed to a seat and was rewarded with having an elephant (called Tong Kun) all to myself! It was just me and four friends, on two other elephants – not the vast crowds I’d been dreading. I was taught by the trainer of Tong Kun how to instruct her, with ‘pai’ meaning ‘go’, for example, and then left to it! She was surprisingly obedient and, of course, utterly adorable.

Elephant Ride - Luang Prabang

Elephant Ride - Luang Prabang

Elephant Ride - Luang Prabang

 

 

 

Elephant Ride - Luang Prabang

Elephant Ride - Luang Prabang

 

 

With only one day in this beautiful town, we had no time to lose. Next stop: Kuang Si waterfalls. Despite the slight increase in the crowds, these ascending tiers of soft, milky turquoise water are not to be missed. There are also numerous areas where you can head in for a swim – lots of jumping off the waterfall opportunities to be had! The site also is home to a ‘sanctuary’ for Asiatic black bears and sun bears, rescued from highly inhumane conditions such as minuscule cages or forced ‘bear dancing’.  They’re now set up in the equivalent to a zoo-like habitation which, although still not ideal, is unarguably far preferable to their previous situations.

Kuang Si Waterfall

Kuang Si Waterfall

IMG_5155

Kuang Si Waterfall

We stopped at a little village on the way back into town. Naturally, we were bombarded by the local salemen...in this case, children.

We stopped at a little village on the way back into town. Naturally, we were bombarded by the local salesmen…in this case, children.

 

The final exertion for the day was climbing up the steps to the tallest peak in the town: Phu Si temple. Undoubtedly the best place to view the sunset over the Mekong River. Other delights not to be missed in this enchanting little town include the friendly and vibrant night market, full of irresistible locally crafted goods. Down a side branch of the market you can find the equivalent of a food quart, where a vegetarian all-you-can-eat Laotian buffet costs as little as a dollar. The smoothies/shakes available at stalls throughout the streets are also to die for. The perfect way to end a fantastic day.

Sunset Luang Prabang

Food at Luang Prabang night market

N.B. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnKUD_OztRE

(This would have been my preferred song for the post but it just seemed a little too obvious!)

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Below My Feet

  1. You are doing it soooo right! With a wife and children, I ransomed my life for what seemed worth it at the time. I don’t regret the decisions I made; but I do regret feeling that I didn’t really have any choice. It sounds so trite, and maybe it is but, drink deeply of life now. We have no assurance of tomorrow…only the breath we now take. Thank you for showing us worlds most of us will never see. ** 🙂 **

    Warmly,

    Ron

  2. Wow! I am amazed by your Journey! How sweet it must have been to get to know an elephant! I just LOVED all the pictures as well, you truly know how to share the journey! excited for the next entry!

  3. I love love love your blog. The pics of evidence of your travelling or I should say, yout “journey”, is wonderful, beautiful and inspiring. I would have loved to have this chance of a Life time. Enjoy every second and keep posting!!!

    PS: thx for liking my blog😊i

  4. I LOVE your photos!!! You really have an eye for photography! May I ask what camera you use? I’d really appreciate knowing what others use to take pics with. Thanks in advance for your reply! 🙂

  5. Beautiful photos! It’s really nice reading about you and your journey. I’ve always admired elephants for their emotional intelligence. Your posts have inspired me to do an illustration of the elephants near future. I look forward to reading more of your posts. 🙂

  6. What an amazing experience – I feel the same about the elephants, but still want to try it…! :/. I am flying into bangkok in October and making my way into Laos – I’m don’t really know much about the place and this just brought it alive. Thanks!

  7. I’ve just come across your blog and I really love it! This post brought back a lot of memories. Laos is such a great country, I loved it as well.

    I have been traveling through South East Asia this year and am currently living in Vietnam teaching English. It’s been great but I’m actually leaving Vietnam in a few weeks for more travels – first to China and then on to Australia. If you have a second you can check out/follow my blog here:

    http://overdueadventure.wordpress.com/

    Look forward to reading more posts from you!

    Siobhan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s