Luang Prabang- Lao
16 April – 18 April 2017
Driving to Luang Prabang, celebrations of Pi Mai Lao continued in the small villages and hamlets we passed through. We were constantly winding up our windows to avoid being drenched by enthusiastic adults and children. Unfortunately, these celebrations didn’t make our journey easy. The roads deteriorated. As we drove into the rugged mountains the constant climbs up inclines of between 12 – 14% put a strain on the engines causing overheating. When we reached the top of the climb the brakes and clutch were tested on the way down. We wondered how some of the heavily overloaded trucks managed to complete this journey on a regular basis.
Luang Prabang is a peaceful town, once the ancient capital of Lao and surrounded by mist covered mountains. Our hotel had the most magnificent views overlooking the town. With golden Buddhas and Stupas shining in the sunlight.
The night market was buzzing with stalls filled with wonderful fabrics woven in traditional patterns and colours. You could buy just about anything here.
The highlight of the stay was a visit to the Elephant Sanctuary where elephants are rescued from a life of drudgery, dragging logs through forests. They have an elephant hospital for treating them. Most of us enjoyed a bare-back ride – one person per elephant and its mahout. No howdows or sharp hooks are used to urge the elephants on, only the feet of the driver and you just hang onto the head of the head as they lumbered down to the river. The big thrill is wading down the river on the elephant! After this adventure we visited Tad Sae a “dry waterfall’’ in a Lao longboat. Its dry because the rainy season hasn’t started yet – that’s what Pi Mai Lao is about – hoping for the rains so rice can be planted, and water tanks filled.
The drive to Luang Namtha from Luang Prabang was another long and bumpy one, with many long trucks we had to pass on the way. This is the main road to China and we leave Lao for China near Botan. The Chinese are building many power stations here as well as building fast train links between Singapore, Bangkok, Vientiane and the China.
Tomorrow we enter China and maybe our of reach of internet.