Luang Prabang in Laos

14 03 2010

Luang Prabang has been a great relief after all the all the noise in Hanoi.  As you might have heard the Lao people are extremely relaxed and I think that in the five days we have been in Laos only one scooter has honked its horn at us so it has been very relaxing!

The flight from Hanoi was very nice and we even had a nice dinner on board during the one hour flight.  Getting a visa was no problem, we had a minor scare though as we didn’t have any dollars nor Lao kip but the visa guys accepted Thai baht so in the end we were OK.

Luang Prabang is a very cozy town of about 50 thousand people, located on the banks of the Mekong river.  It is quite a beautiful town with a dominating French colonial style.  The relaxed atmosphere is quite dominating and you even have to wake up some of the tuk tuk drivers if you want them to drive you places :)

For the first three days here in Luang Prabang we have just soaked up that relaxed atmosphere and done next to nothing – just wandered around looking at the many temples in town, checking out the very nice night market and chilling in one of the cafés or bakeries here.  We met the Húsavík quartet again – just shows how small Asia really is – and here is a link to their Icelandic blog

Laos has been called the land of the thousand elephants so it made sense to book a mahout training course (elephant trainer/rider) for Elínborg’s birthday.  We booked a two day training course with the Elephant Village, which seemed to us like the most trustworthy company in town.

The elephant village had nine elephant chicks and on the first day we got to ride the elephant on the saddle and after we got comfortable I was allowed to ride on the elephant’s neck.  After the first ride we had our mahout training, learned the lingo and how to control the elephant.  After lunch we were allowed to ride the elephants on our own into the jungle where they spend the afternoon eating their 200 kg. of greeneries before going to sleep (the elephant dongs are in proportion to what they eat :).

In the evening we joined a local party celebrating the opening of a new school in the village.  The party felt a bit strange and after two ladies asked me to dance, we left for the peace and quite at our restaurant.  We could hear the banging music from the party in our lodge well into the night …or at least until about 21:30 when we fell asleep :)

In the morning we went with the other mahouts and fetched the elephants from the jungle and took them for a bath.  Bathing the elephants in the river was so much fun – they are such delicate and fantastic creatures and so much fun to be around.  This was possibly the most fun activity that we have done so far!

After breakfast we went back to Luang Prabang and are now waiting for the mini-bus to take us down to Vang Vieng.