Luang Prabang has been a great way to end our time in Loas, although we have a two day boat trip to the Thai border.
One thing we won't miss from the former French colonies is the seemingly endless supply of baguettes. In India we left a national train network, in Laos and Cambodia they left a crusty roll!
LP is a beautiful town and was great to cycle around (my pedal fell off) and explore. The patisseries (OK that's a good legacy) are doing for my waist line what the beers in Thailand did. I thought you were supposed to lose weight when traveling not pile it on?
Anyway, speaking of the Battle of the Bulge we went on an exercise drive. We booked ourselves and our Danish friends Natalia and Jacob on to a 25km bike ride, followed by elephant ride and bathing and 2 hour kayaking day. Despite Petrina's pedal falling off twice, and numerous chains coming off our guide was undeterred and showed us how any problem with a bicycle can be easily rectified with a rock from the road side.
After the cycling came the best part of the day, elephants. We decided to ride them without a saddle and were assured that this was OK, we also were happy with their welfare so it was good to do it there.
Unfortunately, with hilarious consequences we were joined by Daniel a 40ish American, Korean based, English teacher (now there's an oxymoron). So now we had two elephants and five people. It was decided that the girls would go together leaving a poor man's United Nations on the back of one of Asia's finest animals.
Daniel had hardly endeared himself to us with his advise that we should fly from each destination and hire guides to get everywhere. Add this to his weird story about his 51 day marriage and random picture taking of Natalia and we knew we had as we say in Norfolk "a right one" on our hands.
So the time came to mount the elephants, I knew this would be very ungraceful but the handler was really good, up to the point where Daniel boasted about how many times he'd rode elephants and the locations adding that he was also charged by a rhino!
With a tut under my breath and a roll of the eyes I mounted the beast from the side. Now never having touched an elephant before I was shocked by the un-life-likeness of her hide. However up I went and was great by Captain America at the top. Jacob was next, the girls were on there's and we were on our way.
Now I'm not sadistic in anyway but the thirty minutes were hilarious. About, oh, 20 second into the trek to the river Daniel (America's David Attenborough) gets scared. Brilliant! Gone was Indiana Jones only to be replaced by a bald version of Shaggy from Scooby-Do. And believe me it was just like usual plot where they find themselves in a dark cave or haunted house and cling on to each other, however Daniel chose me, and with his terrified grip on my shoulders driving my tailbone into the elephants spine and whimpers of oh **** I'm really c***ing myself here in my ear repeatedly. Still I'm a good guy and gave reassurance that he'd be OK. Phew!
Anyway justice was soon to be served, as we sat on the elephant in the lake as got hosed by there trunks Daniel fell off! What's more he then had to wade through tons of dung back to the shore where the locals were laughing and taking pictures of him with our cameras.
After that it was kayaking. Or I should say tri-yaking as we drew te short straw and had to "team up" with Daniel. Petrina was nervous about capsizing despite Daniel's latest claim "I'm an Olympic swimmer." My response was to look over both my shoulders as i was sure that someone from a group that Daniel must have slipped away from would be looking for him shortly.
However we boarded our doomed vessel and it was at least all of five minutes before both Petrina's fears of capsizing and my fears that Daniel wasn't an Olympiad were met. Nor could he tell right from left as Petrina and I had desperately tried to steer our kayak away from the offending rock by rowing and shouting "LEFT LEFT!" So Petrina was left clinging to a rock a flew past her holding on to the upturned vessel and Daniel was...the least of my worries. Disaster loomed..............
Hero is a word bandied around all to often these days but the way I managed to turn the kayak back over, climb on board, shore up and pluck Petrina from the might of the Mekong with my oar was nothing short of Bear Grylls! Oh and the sight of Daniel floating away in the back ground as I pulled Petrina in was priceless. Not as priceless as when he then capsised the guide's kayak who was trying to rescue him. hahahaha
Great days love to you all C & P