Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A really good day in Luang Prabang

We ended up spending 6 nights in Luang Prabang, our first stop in Laos. Luang Prabang is a small, charming town located on the banks of the Mekong River. Because of the French influence in Laos (France became was the protectorate from 1887-1945) there is a European influence to the architecture and the food. There's bread - lots of bread! A nice break from the rice, although I have to say I am not getting sick of the food here at all.

I am not even really sure how we spent all those days there. We started off slow, just walking around the city and getting a feel for it. It rained the first few nights, which also slowed us down as we were hesitant to plan a big outing if the weather was going to turn on us. We managed to get out and do some things including Tat Kuang Si, a beautiful waterfall 32 km outside of town. We also climbed Phu Si, the large hill in the middle of the town that is scattered with beautiful temples, Buddhas, and a "Buddha footprint." We took a memorable boat trip up to Pak Ou caves. The scenery along the Mekong was beautiful, the cave was much less so. But totally worth the trip as a way to get out of town and enjoy the scenery, especially with a toddler. Ad we got up early to see hundreds of monks clad in their bright crimson robes collecting alms.

After our boat ride on the Mekong.
And since it's always good to end on a high note, we saved the best for last. The sun was truly shining for the first time in days as we headed off to our elephant trekking tour. Simon was in great spirits as he anticipated riding the elephant. We weren't really sure if he would be excited when we actually got to the elephants (as happened with the camels) but we were hopeful as neither of us wanted to miss out on this experience.

As we climbed onto our chair on top of Mae San, our 38 year old female elephant, Simon was a bit hesitant but once he realized both Mama and Pappa were getting on, he was excited too. The whole family was safely aboard, riding the elephant along with her mahout (trainer) down a steep hill and into the river. It was a relatively smooth ride, I guess because elephants are so large it was sort of a gentle sway rather than a bounce. So when the mahout asked if we wanted to ride her bareback on the neck, I just couldn't pass it up.

It was one of those experiences where I just couldn't stop smiling. Martin was behind me getting jealous, so we switched things up and Martin rode. It was really fun to feel the elephant moving beneath you, and Simon was cheering us on the whole time. It was such a memorable experience.

Next we took a boat ride up the river to Tat Sae, another beautiful waterfall. Simon splashed around and jumped from a small rock into the beautiful blue water. He cheered Pappa on as he jumped about 2 meters from a cascading waterfall. It was his first cliff jump ever! I flew in on a rope swing. Fun!

Martin's splash after his big jump.
Back to Luang Prabang for naps so that we would be well rested for the Luang Prabang Film Festival. It was the first day of a 5 day film festival, showcasing 28 feature length films from SE Asia. Right up my alley! An outdoor movie theater was created in the handicraft market area, perfect for Simon to run around while we staked out some seats waited for things to get started.

Simon had a personal screening of The Lion King.
Not surprisingly the audio for the first film was not so working, so they skipped the Lao film and moved onto a Thai documentary called The Cheer Ambassadors. It was fabulous! I highly recommend it. The unlikely story of the Thai cheerleading team stealing the hearts of fans at the 2009 world championships. It was the perfect end to a perfect stay in Luang Prabang.

Next stop Vang Vieng!


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like so much fun! I LOVE the elephant pictures. Not sure I would be brave enough to do that...