Nellie The Elephant
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Every evening in Luang Prabang a night market sets up on the main street, as we walked through it was so peaceful, nobody shouting at you to buy off them, no arm grabs which get tighter when you say no like in Vietnam, just silence and when you stop to look they would say hello. Its worlds apart from any market I have ever been in even in the UK. As we passed through we ended up in the nightly food market which was a huge buffet style BBQ, you pay 10,000kip (80p) and fill your plate with rice, noodles vegetables, chicken, sausages and fish...Happy days
The following day was rainy all day so we stayed in the room watching movies leaving only to grab some food. So with that day wasted we got up early the following day and visited all the main sight; Wat Xieng Thong monastery, royal palace and we climbed a hill with That Chamsi Temple at the top where we had great views over the area. The palace was great to visit, very humbling to see and very sad as the communists seized power and ended 650 years of the monarchy. It was in the palace I started to feel unwell so I minced back to the room where we spent the rest of the day and night, close by my throne.
Feeling better the next day we took a tuk tuk to Kuang Si waterfalls where we spent most of the day. I had heard they were beautiful but I didn’t expect it to be so perfect, there were four or five wide cascade pools that run off the main waterfall and the water is crystal clear, there was a rope swing and people swimming, we decided to jump in and join them and it was freezing cold which was a shame really so we took some photos then jumped straight back out. We had our picnic on the riverside it was like being back in New Zealand with our picnics every day. We had such a good day a true little paradise. At the base of the waterfall was a bear sanctuary where we watched bears play and search for their food. They are rescue bears that have been saved from a life of torture and cruelty. So nice to see them play freely in a large enclosure.
An early start the next morning, we went to see The Monks Alms Procession. Early at dawn every day the saffron clad monks pad barefoot through the streets while townsfolk place tiny balls of sticky rice into their begging bowls. It was so quiet and such a spiritual ceremony to watch. I friend of ours who was taking part asked one of the monks what they would like to receive and he said "oh I like cookies“.
Laos was known as the land of a million elephants, but now are an endangered species with only 1600 remaining of which 560 work in forests harvesting timber. So we had spent the whole time we had been here trying to decide on an elephant trek but I didn’t want to do one where the elephants may not be treat right. We decided to pay a little more and take a day at the Elephant Village Sanctuary & Resort and we were so pleased we chose it. They rescue working elephants from the abusive environments by allowing them to roam freely in the sanctuary. It was also a bonus that we were in a small group of seven people and as we arrived at the village we were shown around as the elephants had their breakfast, it was so beautiful, there was a feeding station, elephant medical clinic and small lodges where we would have stayed if we chose a 2 day tour. We were given tea and coffee then we were taken to get on the elephant for a ride. We both climbed on Mae Nam she was 52 years old, very stubborn and the boss amongst the herd, typical three stubborn buggers all together.
That night we ate in the market and went to see a cultural dance show which was a perfect end to our break in this amazing town, we were treat like royalty the manager of the restaurant had our shoes lined up ready for us when we left, and came over to shake hands. Every time we move on to a new town I find it to be more laid back than the last and the Laos people just keep getting friendlier and friendlier, it makes me excited about the next stop.