Time to move on again. This time further north to a picturesque town that’s carrying the French colonial history.
What I haven’t written about is that there is an elephant festival some 150 km’s outside of Luang Prabang. We’ve asked around to all we’ve met if they can confirm the dates we’ve found on the internet. We’ve emailed, sent messages on Facebook and asked tour operators, all to no avail. We really want to see these elephants!
After breakfast we walked to the operator that sold us today’s tickets and waited. It’s just by the baguette mafia so we got take away lunch there. The minivan arrived with a driver and three hungover Swedish girls. We filled the Van with us and two Korean guys. Then we went on the road for four hours. Yippy.
It was the most silent ride so far. The girls tried to sleep, the Koreans more into texting than talking and we enjoyed the view. We passed over some decent mountains and had some really gorgeous scenery. To bad it was grey and foggy at the top. So foggy that the driver used first gear and crawled forward in the grey mist.
We arrived in Luang Prabang with no trouble and started walking to our guesthouse. One of the first things we see is a “Elephant travel agency”. Unfortunately they’re just as clueless as everyone else about the festival. Just before we come to our guesthouse do we pass White Elephant Adventures. They know! We buy bus tickets from them for tomorrow morning for our tour to Sayaboury. We don’t know what we’ll find there, where we’ll sleep or how to get back, but it will all work out. We’re going to see the elephants! The festival starts today, and ends on Sunday. We’re here just in time.
The guesthouse is four houses down the road. It’s clean and looks ok. We put in our bags and sit out on the balcony in the public area. Just sitting still after the jittering bus ride was nice.
After a while we go out for coffee, and end up across town (it’s not that big) where we find a nice place with decent coffee. We’ve been by the tourist information and now have a map of the area. We make a little list if what we should see and do when we get back here.
It’s getting closer to sunset so we’re walking down to the Mekong river and watch the sun set in bright colors. We are standing at a ferry station watching the people cross over in small boats. The current is obviously stronger than I thought. The small boats drive almost at a forty five degree angel to keep up against the current.
It’s been some time since we had our mafia baguettes and start looking for dinner. We almost end up by the river but decide to walk a little further. And what luck that we did. By pure chance we end up on an alley with food stalls and find buffets lined up. Fresh vegetables, noodles, potato salad, things I don’t know the name for and much more. Then you buy meat on the side, if that’s your preference. It’s just soooooo good. We eat at small tables close enough to feel the heat from the BBQ where the meat is grilled. We end up talking with a Belgian lady who’s been here before. “Did you ask them to heat it for you?”, she asked. Turns out you can have all the veggies heated also. The guys at the end of the table confirms it’s a common rookie mistake and that no-one knows on the first day. We gotta go back and do it again then.
We take the route back to the guesthouse through the night market. We get breakfast for tomorrow since we’re leaving so early no restaurants have opened. In the market we find me a t-shirt and some cotton pants. “Sabai dee” is written in Laotian in front if the t-shirt. It’s a greeting you can use all day long over here.
Luang Prabang is a really nice city. It’s full of restaurants and bars with tables on the sidewalk, nice facades, pretty lamps and a “just relax and enjoy” atmosphere. We’re gonna enjoy spending some more days back here.
Coming back to the guesthouse we meet the owner and get tea and bananas while we sit outdoor a while before going to bed.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
– Desmond Tutu