General, Travel

Hungry Elephants and Happy Bears

I woke up this morning properly excited. The busiest days have been the best days, and today is jam-packed. The price has also reduced since I spoke to Lek inexplicably from $60 to $45, which now included the bathing and the waterfalls as well. I’m not going to rant or complain, just be pleased that I can afford to do everything. I’ve been looking forward to the Kuang Si falls for months, it was the thing I first wanted to come and see in Laos. Breakfast was full of excitement, and of course Lara was back and fit enough to come with us, which was a relief.

We went outside and were met with a vehicle that would not have looked out of place on the Animal Kingdom Disney safari. As we piled in and set off for the elephant place, it was cold and windy, and we were wrapping up. Again, it’s quite a pleasant feeling. bY the time we arrived, I’m not sure that Melissa was fully breathing she was that excited. I didn’t know what to expect fromt he place, but the elephants were right there, and a lovely English lady met us and told us everything we might need to know. It was a recently set-up elephant sanctuary, rescueing elephants from logging camps etc from indochina, and creating sa relaxed atmosphere for us to enjoy. It defintiely made the whole thing feel less circus like, especially when the elephants appeared to be happy (as much as I can tell nayways) when we fed them. They like them some banana tree shoots.

We paired up, but as we were an odd number, I ended up on my own, and we boarded (I think that is a vaguely correct term) our elephants. It was strange, they are hairy, for a start, and even though they are smaller than African elephants, you are high off the ground. I quickly learnt that my elephant Boua Chan liked nothing more than eating, anything, anywhere, anytime. It was a lot of fun, and another thing off my bucket list. This trip is going to decimate half of my bucket list, before making me add a load of things onto it.

When we were on our way back, everyone else’s elephant followed one another in an orderly fashion so we could disembark. Except for mine, who decided it was the perfect time to go AWOL into some shrubery. When we emerged, it was carrying a huge branch. If an elephant could be smug, mine was. This was after the digging someone’s back garden up incident. When we finally got into the unloading station, I got off, and quickly prepared myself for the bathing. I wasn’t sure what toi expect to be honest, except that we would get to ride that elephant without the chair, which is exciting.

When we got to the riverside, we were all still dressed per the instruction of the elephant lady, Pauline. I was one of the first to get on an elephant, it wasn’t easy without the chair, and platform. Once on, I was convinced I was going to fall off, had no idea where to hold, and was clutching onto my bucket and brush hoping I wouldn’t lose them. Then the elephants lay down, and the fun began. We were all washing and brushing them, when Patty’s decided it wanted to become an underwater animal. Then my Mahout decided he was bored of splashing the elephant, and soaked me and the people nearby instead. It really was a laugh, I am so glad the price of the day had come down enough to afford to do it.

When we had finished, I was covered in icky water but didn’t care, the morning had been brilliant. And we haven’t even reached the falls. We ‘nipped’ to a restaurant for lunch which took longer than we all planned, and collected Katja at the hotel. The falls were right by a bear sancutuary which I didn’t realise was included in the falls entry price until we arrived. Seeing the bears playing and eating in their (sort of, but a bit controlled) natural habitat was really nice, I’ve only ever seen a bear in the zpp with the exception of Yosemite, and that was almost a decade ago.

When we carried on up the path, the bottom of the falls appeared, and they were beautiful, very tropical looking. We carried on up the falls, planning where we would like to wim on the way back down. We arrived at what we initally thought was the top, and noticed people standing in the falls. Of course Jade and I wanted our selfie/photo of the day to be there, so we set off (sorry Mum!) I am still confused as to why the rocks weren’t slippy at all. Not even a little bit. It was great up there, y geography senses were tingling once again. To be honest, they haven;t stopped since Ha Long bay. Some of us wandered back down, while some climbed to the very top. Sally and I braved climbing a tree and jumping from it (sorry Mum again) which was fun, before Leianne, Katja, Sally, and I attempted to swim against the current to touch the rocks at the waterfall point. I think we all managed it, and Leianne, in her rock shoes, could climb a bit.

When we got back, we were all exhausted, but operation get strictly to buffer under any circumstances was back in operation. It failed. Operation charge everything before we go to the home stay or on the boat without electricity was also underway. That boat ride is a bit of an unknown. We don’t really know what the boat will be like, just that we spend 20 hours on it over the next 2 days. Hmmm.

Jade and I decided to go back to the night market. I still needed to get my souvenier from Laos, and we had some Kip left that we wanted to shift. Not enough to avoid street food, but enough to get my thing and a cake as well. Plus the required postcard, stamp, and send run. I hope these are all arriving Gran!

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