Tat Kuang Si Park and Waterfall at Luang Prabang

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Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang
June 29th 2012
Published: June 30th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Today we wanted to really explore as it would be out only full day here. Fortunately, we cut a deal with a driver who'd take us around all day in his pick-up truck, making stops and waiting for us, so we could sort out lives out. This meant getting fruit plates, visiting an ATM and making our way to the waterfalls. Turned out that the journey through the hills/mountains (who knows the official distinction) was a destination in itself. Got some photos but they do not do it justice. The roads are well made but relatively narrow and wind round very tightly, you just cannot see ahead at all. More than a few times I found myself more than relived to not upturn or collide into an oncoming truck, but to his credit, this was the most cautious driver so far and he put up with all of our whims and errands along the way. The journey was very long, and what with the unseen oncoming traffic, at this point the fact that we’d considered biking was laughable. On arrival we parked up and made our way into the forest. Much to my surprise and delight we stumbled upon Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre which has been established since 2003. They work to rescue and care for bears who have been victims of poachers and the illegal pet trade when they are seized by the authorities. The realisation that these beautiful Asiatic Black Bears couldn’t be rehabilitated and freed due to the trauma of their ordeals was shocking. However, the centre seemed to be doing a wonderful job with the bears relaxed in a forest environment, with activities devised for their amusement such as hammocks, platforms and tyres. They have pools, bamboo sticks full of honey and fruit scattered to forage. You could get so close and frankly I could watch a bear eat a mango hanging out of a pool, whilst surrounded with forest and butterflies, all day long. Seeing as the boys had already headed up, Catherine and I followed and I was absolutely stunned by what I saw. I had never seen any photos and the waterfalls I’d seen in Chang Mai had water that was rough and dark. The waters here were blue, shockingly blue and each tier opens into a large pool where you can swim around or even to the rocks to sit under the falls. In this heat, so humid you feel like you’re wearing it, swimming is a sensation. However, the rocks are slippery and I was lucky not to fall on my face, especially considering the little fish that nip at you in the shallows and catch you by surprise. There was even a rope swing into the deepest pool. You had to climb a tree which was soaking and slippery, balance while reaching for the rope with a stick left hooked on a nail and return the stick before you could swing and jump. I was terrified and didn’t have the reach or the guts to return the stick back safely before jumping; giving it my best half-placement-half-throw, but someone thankfully dove in and collected it back for me to reduce my embarrassment. My knees were literally knocking together and my heart was in my mouth knowing I can be very clumsy and its all rocks until you can get to the end where you can jump. It was all worth it, such a thrill. Wondered back soaking wet but hungry! - Which I never am in the day in Asia. Had the most delicious noodle soup and attempted to stretch my palate for spices with some extra chilli sauce. A work in progress to say the least. We met our driver to head home to explore the market. There were so many lovely things to look at and a few it’d take home if I didn’t have 5 more weeks to carry them so sorry Laos economy. Then, this evening we ate in the sweetest little place that served proper loose leaf jasmine tea in a teapot and I was as happy as can be with that. Finally, we headed over to a popular bar, Utopia, which has mats you can recline on at low tables, with a juke box, a screen playing transfixing videos of extreme sports . We rented a pack of uno cards to have with a beer. The bar was under a wooden pavilion on a river with fairy lights and lanterns. Curfew here is 11:30 but as you leave the thing is to go bowling. Unfortunately, we were all too wiped out to do so and figured we’d try and can some sleep before tomorrow,

Goodnight and much love from Katie


2nd July 2012

Sounds like you're having the most amazing time :) well done for taking the jump sounds super scary! Loving the sound of all the fairy lights and how chilled it is, can't wait to here all about it :) love you xxx

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