This morning we have a half day elephant experience at an elephant sanctuary where they care for sick elephants that have been mistreated or made to work in logging areas or are injured. The elephants they have here are only chained up at night on long chains so they have room to move around. During the day, they are free to wander around and eat the sugar cane that is provided for them.
There are currently 13 elephants in the sanctuary & 2 of these are babies. We learn some interesting elephant facts some of which are:
- An elephant drinks 200 litres of water a day
- An elephant eats 300kg of food which is a lot of grass and sugar cane
- An elephant has 6 sets of teeth, as they grind down each set eating another set moves forward
We are allowed to have a ride on the elephants and most of us do, however there is no seat (howdah) and nothing to hang onto. We sit up on the neck of the elephant with our legs under the ears and our hands on the top of the huge head. Each elephant has its own handler (Mahout) and they sit behind us, grabbing us if we sway, fortunately no one falls off!
The ride was slow & bumpy especially going in & out of the river & up the steep path, but it was great fun on these gentle giants.
After the ride, we go for a boat trip down the river to a spot where there is a water fall in the wet season. The view over the local settlements & river is quite charming.
We are then taken to see the baby elephants who are 5 & 6 and we buy them bananas that we then feed to them, they are very inquisitive with their nimble trunks.
After lunch we leave the sanctuary & head back into town to do a city tour.
Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World heritage city with a population of 45,000 people. The Lao European fusion architecture is well preserved.
Our first stop is at Wat Visoun which houses many very old Buddhas
We then visit the Royal Palace which is now a National Museum which houses many treasures including gold Buddhas and precious possessions of the former Lao royal family. Laos no longer has a king as the last crown price abdicated in the 1970’s as communism was gaining popularity after the Vietnam war.
In the reception rooms of the palace the walls are covered in the most magnificent murals with the people, animals & trees being made from different coloured glass.
There are gifts of a boomerang & opal encrusted gold boxes, that were given by Harold Holt the Australian Prime Minister to the Lao King.
The king had a small car collection and the cars are kept in their original condition in a garage behind the museum.
Next we visit Wat Xiengthong, the so-called “Temple of the Golden City” and we get caught in a tropical downpour that lasts for about 15 minutes. We continue our tour soaked to the skin admiring the temple complex with the urns that carried the bodies of the King & Queen to their cremation.
We then walk to a point overlooking the river to view a bamboo bridge that gets washed away each year when the river floods with the rain.
We decide to return to the hotel for a shower & to get out of our wet clothes and then return to the city where we visit Wat Mai, Luang Prabang’s oldest Pagoda. Michael also climbs to the top of Mount Phousi while Kay rests her knee. He passes some monks on the path & visits many gold Buddhas looks out over the city at the top to the magnificent views.
We enjoy a traditional Lao meal of Mekong fish, morning glory (swamp cabbage) & sticky rice, drinking BeerLao sitting under a coconut palm & the stars in the courtyard of a restaurant, a lovely way to end a fabulous day in this great country.