Laos – Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang in Laos had a much more laid back feel than Hanoi. Our budget hotel contained an abundance of hard wood, which would have been considered opulent in the UK, but in the heavily forested Laos it is commonplace.

Next day we had a walk around the town to get our bearings, and met a river guide called Pet. Basically, there are quite a few guys along the riverfront, who have longboats, and will take you for a little cruise on the river for a fee. The river of course is the mighty Mekong, which runs all the way through South East Asia. Pet was quite amused that my name was Pat (Pet and Pat), and agreed to take us to the other side of the river to watch the boat race the following day with his village.

The boat race was a big deal in Luang Prabang, with teams from local villages coming to together once a year to compete. The various villages cheering their teams on from the riverbank, while drinking copious amounts of Beer Lao, which is very cheap and very popular in the country.

At first we were watching the action from  Pet’s boat,

DSC_9249_ChillinOnABoat_WEB

DSC_9231_LadyWatchingRace_WEB

as the teams went down the river going hell for leather,

DSC_9252_BoatRace_WEB

and back up the river in a more leisurely manor.

DSC_9220_BoatReturns_WEB

We were waiting to see the green team. Though there were a few false alarms, as green is a popular colour in Laos (possibly the greenest country on Earth). Eventually, Pet’s home village team came down the course. They seemed to be catching the reds, but not fast enough, and soon they were out of the competition.

DSC_9248_TheGreensBehind_WEB

The villagers didn’t waste much time in evacuating the scene, once there team was no longer involved. They boarded the boat which would take them one hour upstream to their home.

DSC_9257_VillageLeaveAfterRace_WEB

Next day we took a boat ride on the river. We were overtaken by some monks.

DSC_9292_RiverMonks_WEB

There were some charming dogs on the other side,

DSC_9340_Dog_WEBDSC_9338_Dog2_WEB

as well as some Wats (Buddhist Temples).

DSC_9302_Buddhas_WEB

There were also many Wats in Luang Prabang. It seemed as though every other building had a religious purpose. and the whole town was gearing up for one of the most important religious festivals of the year – Loi Krathong (Festival of Lights). This mostly involved constructing boats, floats and lanterns.

DSC_3500_BoatFloatFrame_WEB

DSC_3501_BoatFloatPrep_WEB

All the hard work paid off, plus we were able to meet up with our friends Chris and Gemma (see Varkala Beach and Halong Bay) for a third time, though this time it was not pure chance.

DSC_3605_Lanterns_WEB

DSC_9456_Lantern_WEBDSC_9472_FloorLights_WEB

DSC_9495_LanternAbstract_WEBDSC_9499_MonkLightBoat_WEB

DSC_9524_BoatHead_WEBDSC_9532_StreetLanterns_WEB

DSC_9530_BoatFloat_WEB

We spent the evening wondering through the city’s streets and Wats savouring the mellow ambient atmosphere that had been created by the soft flickering lantern light. And then we bought our own floating candle and placed it into The Mekong with the others.

DSC_9584_RiverLight_WEB

After a few days of settling into the pace of this beautiful city, we booked a day at an elephant camp. For the first part of the day we were just getting used to the scale of these wonderful creatures.

DSC_9646_FeetOnElephant_WEBDSC_9662_Trunk_WEB

DSC_9699_ElephantFace_WEBDSC_9702_Elephant_WEB

We spent a bit of time feeding them, and then had a little trip across the river to see the Pak Ou Caves which were also a Buddhist shrine.

DSC_9724_MekongScene_WEB

DSC_9729_CaveDetail2_WEBDSC_9741_BuddhaCave_WEB

DSC_9732_CaveDetail_WEB

DSC_9770_MonkRiverside_WEB

After our lunch, we had to do some learning. These were words that we would be using to instruct the elephant, whilst we were riding them bareback.

DSC_3700_ElephantLanguage_WEB

This was called mahout training (a Mahout being a person who works with, rides, and tends an elephant).

DSC_9773_ElephantPat_WEBDSC_3702_NikkiElephant_WEB

We both got up okay, but in truth the elephants didn’t pay much attention to any of the words coming out of our mouths. Luckily they did pay attention to the real mahouts, who were walking along with us.

DSC_3717_PGNGElephant_WEB

We rode they elephants through the forest, up and down some quite steep hills, which they handled with complete ease. Towards the end of the afternoon we went down to the Mekong, where we bathed with them. At this point the favourite command was ‘boon’, which was a request for elephant to fill it’s trunk with water and spray it all over you. We got totally drenched.

DSC_9790_ElephantBath7_WEBDSC_9792_ElephantBath6_WEB

DSC_9803_ElephantBath5_WEBDSC_9807_ElephantBath4_WEB

DSC_9819ElephantBath3_WEBDSC_9820_ElephantBath2_WEB

DSC_9840_ElephantBath1_WEBDSC_0159_NikkiElephant_WEB

DSC_0165_NikkiElephant_WEBDSC_0162_PatElephant_WEB

A privilege.

DSC_9590_RiverLightAbstract_WEB

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Laos – Luang Prabang

  1. Hi Pat and Nikki, National Geographic would be jealous – in fact you should write a story and send it throgh with those great pictures! Agree with Patsy – looks a lot of fun. Anyway nearly Christmas here and starting to get chilly. I just wanted to wish you both a happy Christmas and New year, unless your celebrating some other festival whilst on your travels? Good to hear from you and see you are well.

    Like

    1. Thanks David. A very Merry Christmas to you and your family. We’ve celebrated a few festivals along the way, but the message of Jesus Christ is the one we are concentrating on at the moment. Cheers

      Like

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