CHILLING OUT ON THE MISTY MEKONG
The last month I've spent in Thailand at some old haunts - Phuket, Pai, Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai went swimming and bathing with the elephants - a sanctuary where elephants have been rescued from ill treatment. Also dogs, cats, cows, buffalo, pigs etc. The methods used for domesticating elephants are most barbaric. Check out -http://www.elephantnaturef
Went across the border to Laos at Chiang Khong and Huay Xai - then the slow boat to Luang Prabang via Pak Beng. Luang Prabang is an UNESCO listed world heritage site, crammed with temples and French colonial architecture and lots of French people too. Its lost none of its charm despite increased visitor numbers and great efforts are being made to retain its unique character. Panoramic views of the town from Phu Si Hill. Saw the Lao ballet - based on Ramayana at the Royal Palace Museum/Theatre. The Palace has been maintained in the same excellent condition as it was when the Royal Family were exiled. But it is said to be haunted by them. It was certainly a haunting performance.
Went on a trip to Pak Ou Caves - with loads of Buddha images. Definitely more people on this occasion. Also to the Kuang Si Waterfall - very picturesque and photogenic. Plenty of people jumping into the pools, but I went on a mini-trek instead to the top of the falls. There is also the Asiatic Black Bear Sanctuary, the bears kept in enclosures to prevent poaching which is a major problem in Laos - for many creatures. Check out http://www.freethebears.or
Will probably go cycling somewhere locally tomorrow and then get the bus and boat to Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi Neua, before heading into new territory.