Tag Archives: Luang Prabang

OMG was that ever fun!

Hi Everyone,

From the first time I heard that you could sign up for training as a “mahout,” I wanted to do it.
Okay, it’s a touristy kind of thing; it’s not “real” as in you’re not really becoming an elephant trainer. But still, the chance to get in the water with an elephant and give it a bath was too intriguing to not do.
I had practically given up on it though since I didn’t know when it would fit into my itinerary.
Once I arrived in Luang Prabang and realized that this was the place to do it, I was so jazzed and thankful that I had the opportunity.
The following are my “selects” from the experience.
And the main thing I want to tell you? They’re much softer than I expected. *Squooshy, even. I talked to my elephants (both of them). Could they understand me? I have no idea, but their ears were flapping! : )
May you too have a wonderful elephant experience some day (if you so desire).
Aloha mon amis,
-sj

 

The Elephant Village was on very pretty grounds; some people stayed several nights.
Our guide demonstrated how to get onto the elephant (and the oral command).
And then we each got a turn to practice!
This is when our elephant ride began.
It was very muddy due to monsoon rains.
Yep, I jumped at the chance to ride on the elephant’s neck!
C’est moi. Je suis très contente. (i.e. happy!)
We went through what I believe is a teak forest.
There were some water buffalo to spy along the way.
 We went down a very steep hill.
That nice couple is from Belgium; they’re traveling for 13-months via bicycle! They plan to ride back to Belgium! First, they flew to China to begin their trip.
Then we were back where we started.
Almost, but not quite, an hour.
We could feed the elephants if we wanted.
They eat a lot!
After we had lunch, it was time to bathe the elephants; the young lady on the left is from Germany. I had so much fun talking with her, her husband, and another couple who just happened to also be from Karlsruhe (where the first couple lives).
This nice gal is from England.
And then it was my turn . . .
My guy loved to go underwater!
He/she did this several times!
And then I accepted the challenge to try and stand on the elephant’s head.
One.
Two.
Three.
I made it!!!!
Yikes! What’s that guy doing?!?
And then it was time to dip under again.
Waz up?
Takin’ a bath! That’s what!
The mahout helped us all get out of the water safely.
Next, we took a boat ride down (up?) the Mekong River. Monks like the river too.
Whatchyoulookingat?
A little fun gal pal time.
Then back down the river.
Someone shared. :  )
It was pretty flat and calm.
There was a **gaggle of these critters!
We got over half an hour to hang in this pool; by golly if it wasn’t one of the nicest pools I’ve been in–ever!
Aloha Elephant Village!
Bye for now everyone!
-sj
*This is how my dictionary spells it. Me, I say, “Squooshy.”
squashy |ˈskwä sh ē; ˈskwô sh ē|
adjective ( squashier , squashiest )
easily crushed or squeezed into a different shape; having a soft consistency : a big, squashy leather chair.
DERIVATIVES
squashily |ˈskwä sh əlē; ˈskwô sh əlē| adverb
squashiness noun
**Same dictionary:
gaggle |ˈgagəl|
noun
a flock of geese.
• informal a disorderly or noisy group of people : the gaggle of reporters and photographers that dogged his every step. (i.e. a disorderly bunch of crickets)
ORIGIN Middle English (as a verb): imitative of the noise that a goose makes; compare with Dutch gaggelen and German gackern.

Luang Prabang, my fav city in SE Asia thus far . . .

Hi Everyone,

Yes, so far Luang Prabang has been my favorite town/city in SE Asia. It’s quiet; it’s cleaner; it’s interesting . . .

But I’m writing this from Hue, Vietnam and on my way next to Hoi An (that people also say they like), so I’ll keep you posted.

Here are the “selects” from my many, many photographs of the area.

Enjoy!

My end room #5, the two windows facing the street made it shine! (literally ; )

This is from Wat Xieng Thong.
This too.

The mosaic of the tree-of-life is one of its main features.
While walking up the hill to Phu Si temple.
These guys were playing on the gun turret.
Sunset over the Mekong River from the summit of the highest hill (and where That Chomsi temple is located).
Can you get a hit of the fun vibe of this town?
Rented a bike and went out for a spin.
Yes, I received a full dose of happiness while on this boat tour up the Mekong River.
Met this nice young 22-year old Laotian gal; she was showing her parents around who were visiting from the south.
You can get rice based alcohol with all kinds of critters inside!
I bought a few of her cloths.
There were many, many people doing the same type of work in this little village north of Luang Prabang.
Moi and my new friend. : )
The boat trip was to this Pak Ou Caves.
One of my favorite meals while in Luang Prabang–fried noodles with veggies; that’s a mango smoothie in back.
I too gave them sticky rice and little cakes.
My “neighborhood” wat where I heard the monks hitting the drums one day.
Did you celebrate this holiday too?
Rented a bike again and headed out of town.
This is the wat with the golden dome that one sees from the top of the hill in the town center (on the peninsula in the classic “old” part of town).
And this is what it looks like inside; I climbed up to the top level!
There were many levels.
Real life in Luang Prabang.
I like how they have the place for someone to sit on the bike; this was one of my new friend’s favorite wat, Sene, I believe is the name.
This caught my eye while riding down the road.
The one-way road along the Mekong River side of the peninsula.
Setting up for the nightly market . . . there’s lots of stuff in them there bags!
This is next to the Royal Palace Museum, known to the locals as Haw Kham (Golden Hall).
Dragons are one of the four sacred animals. The others? The phoenix, the unicorn, and the turtle. Some of the very important things I learned during my travels.
Lots of restaurants along the river for dining, drinking, and thinking–not necessarily in that order!
There are bizarre insects hidden underneath that goat cheese, salmon, and cavier! Met the wife of the chef of Blue Lagoon restaurant (a very, very nice restaurant in Luang Prabang); he offered to prepare insects for me in a way that “Europeans” can eat. I did; it was good; there was a undefinable “musty” flavor. No, I did NOT ask what the critters were! Knew I most probably wouldn’t be able to eat it then. Why did I eat them? How often is a great chef going to make such an offer to me?
There’s a library on the right; I had a nice evening there reading. Before, I’d gone to the wat across the street to sit and meditate as the monks chanted. I later learned that that was exactly when dear Julie Anne Mercer Lee left this planet.
I bought those paintings (the small ones : ). Recognize the one on the left, Jan? Have you received the box yet? The other two were drawn by that man’s niece (she’s about 5 or 6 years old).
For when you visit Luang Prabang . . .
And then it was time to leave for the airport . . .
Just in case you were tempted.
With my few remaining Laotian Kip and 2 US dollars, I bought my little guardian bat angel; it’s been keeping an eye on my computer for me.
Aloha Luang Prabang!

Aloha mon amis,

-sj

4 p.m. in Luang Prabang, Laos

I’d read about this somewhere, that at 4 p.m. monks in Luang Prabang gather at the many wat and drum. A few days ago, while chillin’ in my room, I heard some drumming. In less time than it takes to put on shoes in other parts of the world, I’d left my room, walked around the corner, and was watching them drum (albeit behind the vines that you see are hanging down from the little gazebo).

Enjoy!

The closing of the 15-day festival which began while I was still at FLO . . .

Hello Everyone,

When you visit Luang Prabang, you’ll most likely want to get up early one morning to give the monks sticky rice. I’d read and heard about it, and then decided that I too wanted to participate.

This morning ended up being an auspicious day, it was the closing of the festival which began while I was still in Cambodia and at FLO; it was why I got to go to the *pagoda (temple) with many of the FLO students on my last day. Yes, I haven’t told you about that yet (nor properly thanked all of you who gave $s for taking some of the FLO kids out to dinner! That will come; I promise. In the meantime, here’s a simple, “Thank you; the kids were soooo appreciative!”) I have many photos of that most wonderful experience (both).

But for now, it’s Tuesday morning, September 27th, and I just sat outside with many other people and one-by-one handed the monks sticky rice and a cake (there were 3 separate groups of monks, about 60-70 people all together, of all ages). There was one other guest from the hotel who also participated (a cute, young Japanese lady, a nurse who lives in Tokyo, she said).

Here’s a shot to give you an idea of what it was like . . .

Best wishes for a beautiful Tuesday, September 27th . . . wherever, whenever, and however you may be.

With warm aloha,

-sj

*the word of choice in Cambodia, but in Laos it’s vat (wat), the nice 22-year old lady I met yesterday while riding the slow boat up the Mekong told me this. (She’s lived in Luang Prabang for one year and was taking her parents on a tour; they’re visiting for 3-days. She later told me that her brother, who had come north to live with her and “watch over her,” had died in April during the water festival. “They do not smile for many months,” she said as she explained that she wanted to bring them a little happiness . . . )

Made it to Luang Prabang!

The hotel I found is awesome!