Elephants and Luang Prabang

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September 12th 2010
Published: October 11th 2010
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Wow! It's been so long since an installment that I almost don't know where to start but alas I will do my best!

So upon the recommendation of Chloe the three of us girls headed off on a 2 day Mahout Course to learn the fine art of Elephant training. Really what this entailed was us riding around on Elephants for two days pretending like they were listening to what we said when really they ignored us! lol

It was a fantastic way to get close to the elephants without it being an overly touristed excercise and we could tell that these elephants were well cared for. After travelling around asia for so long I have seen a fair share of sad looking elephants that really don't seem to be enjoying life. These guys were living in elephant luxury!

So the first day we went for a walk through the jungle on top of the big wooden seats they fix to the elephants and then after lunch we donned our Mahout uniforms and rode bare back! When I say bare back really I mean bare neck, because we rode on their necks right behind the ears - and those are big ears I tell you! We learned a few key commands, such as left, right, go, stop etc and then headed out for a stroll through the jungle. Luckily the real Mahouts were always with us so when the elephants failed to respond to our commands they were there to help out. My elephant loved bamboo and she insisted on traipsing into bamboo bushes at every opportunity, at one point my leg got stratched so bad I still bear the scar!

The end of our walk was a bath in the river which was loads of fun! All three of us went in at the same time and managed to stay on despite the elephants best efforts to tip us off everytime they dunked themselves under the water. The only down side to the bath was the presence of what the Mahouts like to call 'Elephant Coconut' - in other words elephant dung in the river! After the bath it was time to walk the elephants out and drop them off to their sleeping spot where they would spend the rest of the night. We made our way wet and smelly back to the bungalow for a much needed shower and rest before dinner.

Our second day was actually really short because we rose early (6.30am) in order to collect the elephants and bath them again and then it was time for breakfast and checkout. Although we were all fairly tired so didn't mind heading back to town for a nice relaxing day in Luang Prabang.

The next few days were spent hangin around in Luang Prabang, its a great town for that with so many cafe's and restaurants and little places to sit and chill or read your book. We actually had a pretend birthday celebration for me as the girls were leaving and I was to be on my own for my birthday. We went out for dinner and then sat at a really groovy wine bar for the rest of the night enjoying a lovely drop of red - bliss.

Soon enough Thursday came around and Courts and Andi were off to Hanoi so after farewelling them I headed over to my new digs, as I couldnt afford to stay in the lovely hotel we had been in! On Friday I went out to Kuang Si which is the biggest waterfall in Luang Prabang. It wasn't as nice for swimming as Tad Sae as the water was really brown but it was huge! I managed to climb to the top (my quads paid for that the next day!) but it was totally worth it for the view. Laos is just stunning everywhere you go, I don't thing I have seen a part of Lao that is not gorgeous!

After more than a week it was finally time to say goodbye to LP and head north to Muong Ngui, a sleeply little town who only has electricity from 7-10pm each night. Once again in true Lao style the short distance is kms was to take a long time in hours - 4 to be exact and I have to say they were some of the scariest yet! Our driver didn't seem to understand the concept of slow down and overtake only when safe to do so! At one point as he tried to overtake a truck (on a bend of course) we actually almost had a head on collision. Like so close the braked were slammed on and we had to wait and get back behind the truck! We were all glad to get the hell out of that bus and down to the boat dock where supposedly we could get a slow boat up he river to MK. After nosing around the 'boat dock' and finally finding someone to ask when the boat leaves we were told 2pm which meant an hour and a half wait. I really think all traveller who have been to Laos could seriously win gold in the 'waiting around' olympics! Finally after sweltering for an hour and a half we were herded onto the boat, only to wait another hour for it to fill up! It became hilarious really and the only thing we could do was laugh. Despite the long, long day and all the waiting the slow boat journey was worth it all - once again Laos delivered with a trip through stunningly beautiful limestone karsts and green mountains. That night whilst enjoyin a Beer Lao at the riverside restaurant I met a group of people who were heading north in 2 days time to a place called Muong Koua from where they told me I could get a bus into Vietnam - perfect! So the next day we all headed down river to visit a waterfall, more gorgeous scenery of course and a lovely walk to the waterfall. That night it was more Beer Lao and sticky rice before an early night ready for our 6 hour slow boat ride in the morning!

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7th October 2010

good photos
Hi Lisa Legs! Great to read your blog and see all the wonderful photos; love the elephant ones! They really do look just like big Vegemites in some photos. You are looking very brown now and that makes me feel even whiter... : ( Hope to hear good things about your time with Carrie next blog, I'm jealous for missing out on it all. Vegemite misses you and is getting boring as he is living the high life now, just snoozing on the couch all day when Jarrad is home! I think he misses having his mummy around. Ok, gotta go, much love, take care and all the rest, Mia xxx

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