Luang Prabang – Surroundings

   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had a few more days in Luang Prabang packed with activities outside the town. The days could, of course, have also been well spent further exploring Luang Prabang, but there are only so many days in a trip and we wanted to see as many different things as possible.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
THE sight outside of Luang Prabang are the Pak Ou Caves, named after the river on which the caves are located. They are considered sacred and it is said to bring good luck to deposit a Buddha inside this caveOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA. The tradition has been alive for many many years and an estimated two thousand Buddhas are currently standing in the cave. Our guide told us that the longer you left the Buddha standing in the cave, the more good luck you would get and that he himself also had two Buddhas standing in the cave.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The first cave is visible from the river, with some of the Buddhas also being visible from there. The second cave, which contained the monastery at one point in the past, is a long flight of stairs up the hill and not visible from the river. A finely crafted wooden door covers the entrance and the interior is now also home to many Buddhas, but by far not as many as you could see in the first cave.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
We took the boat from Luang Prabang up to the caves, a lovely 90min trip showing off the rural beauty aroOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAund Luang Prabang and a lot of the village life on the shores of the Mekong. We saw many gardens, fishers, some people washing themselves and their clothes in the Mekong. Cows, pigs, geese and of course the water buffalo.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
It was enjoyable even though it was misty and wet in the morning. The return trip was even better as the sun had come out and we could cruise in the sunshine. We stopped at one village to see how the famous Lao whiskey was made. I was expecting, well…, whiskey. However, the only thing that relates the Lao whiskey to what we commonly think to be whiskey is the amount of alcohol in it. They ferment sticky rice. If it has 15%, they call it rice wine. If it has over 30% they call it lao whiskey.
TOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhe next day we visited two waterfalls: Kuang Si and Tat Se. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe former is a series of bassins leading up to a larger waterfall, while the second is smaller but wider and spreads its bassins through the forest, giving it a very lovely atmosphere. It is difficult to say which one I liked more. Kuang Si has the advantage that you can climb up above the waterfalls and wade almost to the edge where the water stumbles down into the depth. From there you have a stunning view over the mountains and the valley. I very much enjoyed the view, almost more than the waterfall itself.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tat Se, is much smaller but the forest surrounding it is tenser. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnfortunately we could not go for a hike there, but the 20min we did walk along the riverside were absolutely stunning: Huge trees, vines, orchids, ferns, everything grows on and in each other. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext to the Tat Se waterfall is an elephant rescue farm, where you can ride or just watch elephants which were freed or bought out of their hard life as logging elephants or similar situationOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAs. It was the first time for me that I rode an elephant and the entire enterprise was a lot more shaky than expected. I guess this is gonna be a once in a life time experience, but one I didn’t want to miss!

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