Thursday, June 18, 2009

SE Asia Trip, Part 6 - Luang Prabang, the Second Attempt

02/03/09 - 03/03/09

I arrived back in Luang Prabang in time to have a wander around the peninsula at sunset.

The next day I spent the morning in Luang Prabang before heading out to Kwang Si Waterfalls in the afternoon. Practically every travel agent along the main street sells some sort of tour or trip to Kwang Si, or you can just hop on a tuk-tuk and negotiate a price if there is a group of you. I joined a minibus heading out to Kwang Si. I got chatting to an Australian girl on the bus and we spent the afternoon together exploring the waterfall.

Kwang Si Falls are located about an hours drive from Luang Prabang. The main fall is about 180ft (according to Wikipedia...) but there are several smaller cascades into the pools below the main fall as well.

As it is the dry season there isn't an awful lot of water - I've seen photos of the falls in the rainy season and they practically cover the above cliff wall.

We decided to climb to the top of the falls - unfortunately this is what the climb looks like if you go up the right side of them. As we learnt later there are steps on the left side...

At the top of the falls - a fence presumably to stop tourists falling over the falls.

The pools at the top of the falls.

Back at the bottom again, this is taken from the base of the falls looking out.

This is the swimming area further down from the falls. We had a good time along with all the other tourists swimming and relaxing. Certainly a nice break from the heat.

Near Kwang Si Falls there is also a Bear Rescue Centre, where bears which have been rescued from poachers are looked after. I think they are all Asiatic Black Bears. There used to be a tiger here too, but unfortunately she died recently of a nervous system disease. These bears are endangered and you have pretty much nil chance of seeing them in the wild. While I don't like seeing animals in captivity, at least these ones are protected from poachers and the destruction of their habitat.

Unfortunately I didn't get many decent photos of the bears, but it was fun watching them play around in their enclosures.

On the way back the minibus stopped off at one of those 'traditional' villages - the places that make you walk around a set path lined with stalls, trying to convince you to buy something. Argh. The highlight of that side trip was giving my Sprite can to a little girl to play with it with her friends, and also watching all the baby chickens following their mothers around.

Back in Luang Prabang I spent the evening with my new found friend, hanging out at l'Etranger and the Night Market, followed by some god awful lao lao cocktails at a bar. The bars close at 11pm for the enforced curfew, so not a late night for us as we had to make it back to our guest houses before the police rounded us up! I nearly got locked out...

I decided I would leave Luang Prabang the next day and head north up the river to Nong Khiew and Muang Ngoi. But I'll be back in Luang Prabang yet again before heading home!