Thursday, February 3, 2011

Luang Prabang Finale

Completely satisfied with my last day and evening in Luang Prabang. Today started with a bike ride around town and an amazing last breakfast at our favourite restaurant Utopia. As it was a cloudless day and the sun was making it's presence known by noon, we were easily convinced that visiting the Kuang Si water falls was the best option for the afternoon. Thirty kilometres later, a forty-five minute trip by tuk tuk, we arrived at our destination. The entrance to the falls had a moon-bear rescue and rehabilitation centre. Apparently these small black bears are poached and milked for their bile, used as a traditional medicine, a process that is painful and living conditions are dreadful. However, the bears at the sanctuary looked happy and playful. Approaching the falls we saw the first of the beautiful turquoise pools and cascading falls. Further up we found a steep path that lead to the summit of these amazing falls where we could cross and climb back down the other side. Completing a circuit, we all stripped down to hour bathing suits and plunged into the cool and refreshing water. There were a series of pools and after paddling around in one for a short period of time we progressed to a lower pool that was equipped with a rope from which to swing.

On arrival there was a young man preparing to take his first timid swing. After a few moments of hesitation he leaped, but could not hold his own weight on the rope and made a vertical drop from the tree that the rope was tied around. With a big plop into the empty pool an expectant crowd waited to see the man come to shore. However, all he did was bobble with his head below water while flailing his arms in the air. Soon after, two men jumped in and rescued the sinking man. All was fine, but it was hilarious. Makes you wonder the thought process of a man who cannot swim and what reason could cause him to swing out on a rope into a deep pool of water with no apparent exit strategy? Crazy!

David and I took our turns on the rope with no difficulty and towelled off in preparation for our ride back to town. Once in town, we three jumped on our bicycles and crossed a commuter bridge to a residential area yet unexplored. There was not much to see so not much to report, but the bike ride was nice.

Handing in our bikes and settling room payment at the guesthouse we headed market bound and made our separate ways. As I was full from the two steamed buns at the falls and not interested in eating just yet, I opted to go for a massage. Lemon Grass Tradition Massage Centre is absolutely amazing. I spent an hour in-and-out of a herbal steam room while enjoying tea between sessions. The steam room was a prep for the best Lao massage I have had, perhaps the best to date. Two and a half hours later I left the Lemon Grass and headed for the night market, which at this time was closing down. Famished now from all the strenuous work of walking back and forth to the steam room I was on the hunt for food. Restaurants were closing their doors and dito the crepe stands. Fortunately I came across a noodle soup vendor and devoured a brothy bowl.

Luang Prabang was a very pleasant stop on our travels and will be missed. We spent many evenings wandering markets and I was wounded with two scraped knees after a vigorous game of beach volleyball one evening at Utopia. David, Robyn and I were on the all Canadian team with Three others from Winnipeg, Calgary and Golden. We rocked the court, as Robyn dropped bomb after bomb on the opposing team. Unable to keep stride with Robyn's lofty serves we gained point after meaningless point. No score was kept and players switched teams at will, sometimes with 7 players in opposition after a quick beer refresher. After a days rest, we headed out on our epic kayak adventure.

Originally we thought we were well equipped to complete three days of kayaking. We shortened it two and after the first day of continuous paddling for 5 hours we cut the second day to an hour and finished our river ride at the local whiskey village. Good times were had but we are definitely not kayak champions.

It is getting late and we are off early in the morning. I have neglected to pack my bags so I must still do that tonight.

Farwell all until the next update.

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