As Lao has only few inhabitants and is mountainous, we saw beautiful and wild landscapes.
First, just few kilometres from Luang Prabang, town well known for its elephants and its temples, we discovered the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls!!! A clear blue water, enough water to swim… That was enough for us to put on our swimming suits and jump into the water!!! It was cold (yes, it is a waterfall, not a hot spring) but we enjoyed it!!! And now we can say “we did it!!! » ;-)
Small bracket : As you can notice, I didn’t start this post with elephants or temples… There are several reasons for that: Regarding elephants, we asked few agencies about their tours; they all offer the same service: a ride on elephant... in a “gondola”!!!! And we know that “gondola” hurt elephants, so we don’t support this practice!!! If you want to discover how an elephant journey is, without being a last (and a pain) for the elephant, then we suggest you to go out of the city and find a real preservation centre for elephants!!! Then, regarding temples and Buddhism here in Luang Prabang; yes, at 6AM you can assist at the monk ceremony (people on their knees offer food to monks who walk on line and who then sing a prayer to “thank” the donators) but in this city, it is now the first touristic attraction: donors are not local people anymore but curious tourists not even enough respectful to stay on their knees!!! Monks don’t sing anymore (it is not necessary as tourists don’t understand Lao language …) and the other tourists (the ones who just assist at the ceremony) have big cameras and stand 10 centimetres away from the monks… So we went there with the thought that we will see something very traditional and we just saw a tourist parade… Fortunately, we saw one “real” monk ceremony in a village in the North. No tourist, just local people waiting faithfully for the monks, and monks who sing after getting the food!!! That was really intense this time and meaningful!!! Bracket closed !
Later, we went by boat to Muang Gnoi : Along the river, we saw river weeds fishermen, buffaloes, drying hemp and maïs culture.
After a “peaceful” night (because the boat wasn’t really comfortable) we hiked, with our bags without really knowing where to go!!! It is very steep in this region!!! After 4,5 hours we finally reached the village at the top of the mountain… Very hungry and thirsty!!!! The village is beautiful and there is no signs in English, no shops, no homestays…. Just a REAL village! While walking in “the street”, we asked a guy (with body language) where we could eat and he invited us in his house. We sat on the floor. In one side of the house, hemp was drying. He explained us that it was then sold in Vietnam and transformed in fabrics. His son, Klit, arrived. He looked very shy but when we showed him our football ball that we had (you remember, the one we won in Mozambique, during the World Cup), a big smile appeared on his face and he ran to get a pump. Once the ball ready, Romain and Klit went outside to play. Our meal was served (noodles and omelette) and Kilt and Romain came in ; Kilt with his new ball securely in his arms. As thanks his father offered us a cigarette (that e denied of course) but we accepted the Lao Lao drink (traditional alcohol). We drank it the same way as the tradition: only one glass for everybody: the first one drinks the glass and refills for the second, etc, etc, until the last one!!! For his warm welcome and hospitality we gave him some money and we were really pleased to see that he gave the money to his son in order to buy clothes for school!!!
We spent a lovely time with this family but it was already time for us to come back… 3hours walking were waiting for us!!! We arrived at the bottom very tired after 30kilometres but really happy!!! A nice day!!
After these two days, we took the boat to the “gate to Vietnam” city!!! Next stop for us: Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam!