Day 26 - Sightseeing Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Travel Blog› entry 27 of 69 › view all entries
After having more or less wasted 2 travel days doing nothing and seeing this was our 4th day in Laos so far, today we decided to go and see some of the sights around Luang Prabang. Phil and Caroline were going to see one of the big waterfalls, Kouang Si Waterfall about 30km outside Luang Prabang so we decided to join them and reduce the cost. The tuk tuk was arranged for 12 so we got another nice sleep in grabbed breakfast and booked our bus to Vientienne for tommorrow, before we left and all jumped on the tuk tuk and headed for the waterfall.
The waterfall looked to be another touristy type spot with shops setup everywhere around the parking lot that we stopped in, however on entering the path to the waterfall nature returned around us.
The first thing we came across was a bear sanctuary filled with about 20 young black bears. The sancturary was set up as a home for bears that had been recaptured from illegal bear smugglers who were capturing the bears for 'bear pile'. Seemingly bear pile is a substance used in chinese medicine and other medicines. Poachers would capture the bears from the wild, bring them to a 'bear pile farm' where the pile would be extracted daily from an open wound in the bears abdomen. The bears would go through a very painful ordeal and would eventually die a very painfull death. It was actually so re-assuring to see an undeveloped country like Laos trying to protect one of their national wild animals in this way. All the bears that we saw were very healthy and well looked after and spent most of the time we were there climbing and playing.
On leaving the bear sancturary we came across another enclosure.
We continued up the roadway for another few hundred meters and there it appeared in all its glory, Kouang Si Waterfall. The waterfall looked magnificent. It was probably a total height of about 200 meters with several tiers. The pool at the bottom was a beautiful looking milky green/blue colour. There was a beautiful cool damp mist coming from the falling water that was so refreshing in the mid day heat.
We reached the half way point safe and sound, wet bit safe and sound. To get to the second level you had to walk through a small side waterfall that had pools about a foot deep along the walkway. I was lucky enough as I had sandals and shorts on, but Caroline wasn't as lucky, she had runners and long trousers on. She did take off the runners but the trousers got soaked at the bottom. On the way up there was 1 European man that was lucky not to have killed himself. He was walking along 1 of the pools along the path, and everywhere there was a pool there was normally a wooden fence/handrail along the steep side to allow you to keep your balance. Well this man decided to stop in the middle of the pool and I don't know if he was trying to turn around or rest or wait for someone but he decided to sit ... yes sit on the handrail.
We got some more photos at the second tier of the waterfall before heading up to the top of the waterfall. The last section was the toughest with the terrain being almost vertical, but after 10 minutes of climbing, heavy breathing and sweating we reached the top. We had to cross the river to get a good view of the entire waterfall but it was well worth it! Thankfully the path went in a loop around the waterfall and down the other side, along some lovely steps.
On the way back down we did find some of the swimming areas where Phil and Caroline went for a swim. It was very cold though so I didn't bother. There were a few locals swinging out into the pool on a homemade swing too and it looked really cool but we were out of time. We headed on back to the tuk tuk though as we had agreed to meet the driver at 3 again and off we headed back into Luang Prabang.
When we arrived back we just chilled out for a while before heading to dinner.
We took a final stroll around the night market and picked up a few things. Specifically a Beer Lao t-shirt before heading to bed early in preperation for our early morning start to get the 8 hour bus to Vientienne.