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Published: October 9th 2019
October 8 – Sleeping pretty well, if not early enough. I had fried eggs for breakfast today with banana juice. The minibus for our day tour picked us up at 8:30, along with a retired Irish teaching couple from Cork and their daughter who also teaches in Hanoi. We were randomly switched to a different bus and given our official ticket, hand-written on what seemed to be a scrap of paper. Our tour guide was called Thin, and our first stop was Whisky Village, unofficially (I think) named due to the 50 proof rice whisky they produce. We had a small demonstration of the process and they had whiskey on sale, including some stuff “just for men” that had dead snakes and scorpions in it. We had some time to walk around the village before getting on a boat to cruise on the Me Kong to where it meets the Ou River. On the way back we stopped at the Pak Ou caves. There are two caves you can visit, and we walked first up to the upper cave. It was dark and required a light, and Becky used my headlamp to light the way as I took some photos. There
were some Buddha statues and a gong which people kept striking, despite the fact that they should not have. The lower cave was quite crowded, with many statues and people visiting, as all of the boats seem to descend on the place at the same time. There were people selling things, as they were the whole day, but they were not too pushy. Our next stop was the Elephant Conservation place for a buffet lunch. We saw a few elephants on the river bank, but we did not see them any closer. It seems others did after lunch, but I’m not sure how. After we ate we headed to the bathroom to change into our bathing suits for the next stop, not knowing if there would be a changing room.
From here we changed to a minibus again for the ride to what I considered the best stop of the day – the Kuang Si Waterfall. It took about an hour and a half to get there so we had a little nap time along the ways. There is a bear sanctuary within the grounds of the falls, and we saw that first. They have sun bears and moon
bears that were rescued from the bile trade. Very sweet looking. The falls themselves were also extremely beautiful. We decided to walk for a while along the falls, as there were many small falls to see. I’m glad we did, as there was actually a really big fall to see that we would have missed otherwise. There was also a path that seemed to go up and over the falls, but we had a limited time and also wanted to go swimming. We walked back down, found a spot that looked nice, and got slowly in the water. Or at least I got in slowly. Becky was a lot quicker. The water was very cold but once I was in it felt nice. You know those pedicure places that have fish that will eat the dead skin off your feet? Those fish live in this water and it was very weird to have them constantly nipping at my feet and knees. I stayed in a little longer than Becky, but eventually it was time to get changed and head back to the van. The final stop was at a Hmong village. The Hmong people came to Laos about 200 years
ago and have a different culture than most others from Laos. They have tons of kids, marry early and Animism is their religion. We saw a traditional house, all one room, a demo of grinding corn and rice and also an automatic crossbow demonstration with a small crossbow designed for killing food. There were many stalls to walk past and many women and little girls selling. All the boys were playing.
We arrived back to the hotel at 5:30pm and had a tea/coffee and then headed to dinner. We were planning to get something small but ended up with fried noodles, this time at a small outdoor restaurant next to the other one we’ve eaten at. This time I tried a dragon fruit shake and gave Becky some to try, forgetting she has an allergy to apples, one of the ingredients. Luckily, it just makes her mouth itch and she drank some water before that could happen. Killing my friend on vacation is definitely not in the plans. Then it was pack some, shower and bed for an early rise.
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