Loving Laos so far.
Having lunch with a view.
Louangphabang – Pak Ou caves, Kuang Si waterfall and Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre.
Cruising down the Mekong River to Pak Ou caves.
Animals foraging amongst the trees. The river is low due to it being the dry season.
Strong currents in the water.
Water buffalos on the bank of Mekong River.
Landscape of tree covered hills and mountains along the Mekong River.
A small Loatian village with boats moored on the Mekong River.
Boats moored on the bank of Mekong River.
Traditional long boat on Mekong River.
Tourist boats moored by jetty below steps to Pak Ou caves.
Buddhist shrine in Pak Ou caves.
View from the caves across the Mekong River.
Close up of an old Buddha statue with the gold paint eroded over time.
Buddhas placed on pedestals within a cave.
This brass figurine is not in keeping with the other statues. Probably left by a devotee, the characteristics are more akind to a fertility statue.
Branches shielding the light from entering into a void in the cave complex.
A reclining Buddha statue.
Sun shinning into a cave and onto Buddha statue.
A collection of Buddhas, with two dressed in gold cloth. The Buddha dressed in gold in front of a Stupa at the top is also holding minature gold garlands.
Two gold Buddhas in a small niched within the caves.
A statue of a Buddha and a large snake with many heads.
A small collection of Buddhas with flower-style tea light candle holders in front.
A large collection of Buddha statues. To the right are shawls tied, probably by devotees, to a wooden post.
This arrangement of statues sort of reminds me of the three wise monkeys – “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”, in so far as the three Buddhas appear to be portraying a message. The facial expressions, hand positioning and dress are the only differences between each statue.
An old Buddha statue.
Buddha statues and candelabras in a cave.
Grills at the entrance to Pak Ou caves.
A one-legged carved stone goose. You can see where the missing leg had been previously.
View of Mekong River through the trees.
Flowers on the bank of Mekong River near Pak Ou caves.
Restaurant on the banks of the Mekong River.
Welcome to Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre.
Introduction to the bears.
The Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre caters specifically for the Asian black bear.
The bile from the Asian black bear’s gall bladder is a common component in traditional Chinese medicine.
Brutal black market has sprung up around milking the animals for their bile. Held in cages they would be repeatedly milked for as long as they lived.
In addition to being captured for their bile, the bears are often poached to be used as food or even pets.
The bears at the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre have plenty to be happy about since they were all rescued from poachers looking to harvest their parts.
Flowering orchid at the bear rescue centre.
Kuang Si waterfall.
Small waterfalls cascading at Kuang Si waterfall.
The Kuang Si falls are a three-tiered waterfall. The waterfall emerges from shallow pools which lead to a 60 metre drop.
Tourists and locals making the most of the water and surroundings.
The waterfall and pools is a hidden gem surrounded by trees.
Just like my visit to Pamukkale (Day 22) in Turkey, travertine terraces have been created by flowing water over the years.
Me with wet hair in front of the waterfall and natural infinity pools.
A building at the side of the waterfall.
Water cascading through the trees.
Sun reflecting on a clear freshwater pool through the trees.
Natural freshwater pool surrounded by trees.
Jane and I enjoying a dip.
Will, Jane and I in front of the waterfall.
The relaxed look.
The cool look.
The sultry look.
The i’m trying not to laugh look.
I just couldn’t help but laugh.
……………. and laugh.
……………. and grin.
The Elephant Sanctuary – what an experience.
There were so many pictures to choose from but I won’t say sorry for the amount here. Best day so far and i’ve had a few.
Jane and I atop an elephant.
Open sided wooden building in the forest, part of the sanctuary.
Jane and I atop an elephant.
Most of the elephants have been rescued from logging operations.
One of the resident elephant’s was given massive doses of ecstasy and amphetamines so that she would be awake all night and day logging.
Many people will argue that the elephants should be left alone in the wild and not used as a tourist attraction.
The elephants in the sanctuary have been brought up by humans and are not able to be reintegrated into the wild.
Elephant showing off for the camera.
This elephant really is a poser, now making a trumpet call.
The elephants are well cared for by the sanctuary, and tourism revenue keeps them well fed.
There seems something regal about riding an elephant. Vision of the maharajas in ancient India riding atop elephants looking down on their subjects.
I guess the size of an elephant makes them intimidating.
This is very relaxing.
Nice steady pace on the well-trodden trail.
Quick wave to the camera from Jane.
Something majestic in the way an elephant walks.
Had to lean a little as I was close to hitting the branches of a tree.
Elephant seems happy swinging it’s trunk as it walks along the trail.
Jane and I cautiously looking down, although we need not have worried.
Something in the bushes as attracted the elephant’s attention.
Jane and I enjoying ourselves.
Making our way through the trail in the forest.
Elephant carefully negotiating the rocky trail.
Jane and I enjoying our ride.
At the bottom of an incline on a trail.
Half way up the incline and the elephant get curious, starts smelling scent on a rock.
Forget four-wheel drive, this is four-foot drive.
Jane and I enjoying the views from our high vantage point.
This four-foot drive elephant is just as good going down a slope as up one.
The Nam Khan River.
Elephant carrying fellow tourists along a trail at the side of the Nam Khan River.
Dense tree covered hills and forests behind the Nam Khan River.
New eco-friendly fashion accessory.
Does it suit me ?
Will, Jane and I atop our elephants.
Will giving the thumbs up.
We’re on the move again.
Heading into the Nam Khan River.
Our mahout. A mahout is an elephant rider, trainer, or keeper. Usually, a mahout starts as a boy in the family profession when he is assigned an elephant early in its life. They remain bonded to each other throughout their lives.
Me holding a long handled ladle to pour water over the elephant.
Elephant sanctuary buildings on a hill overlooking the Nam Khan River.
Traditional longboat moored on the Nam Khan River.
Making our way back up the hill from the Nam Khan River to the elephant sanctuary.
The elephants make the climb up the hill look effortless.
Scenic view of the hills, forests and the Nam Khan River.
Closer look at an elephant.
Having a good munch on some greenery.
Will and I with our mahouts atop of elephants in the Nam Khan River.
As you can see I have shed some clothes and the seat has been removed from the elephant.
It the elephant’s bath time.
As it is the elephant’s bath time and I am atop it, it means a bath for me to.
The elephant seems to be enjoying the water flapping it ears, but I look abit unsure.
Emerging from the deeper section of the river, the elephant is clean and so am I after our bath.
On my way out of the Nam Khan River after my soaking.
Will taking a photo of us, as Jane takes a photo of him.
Feeling very happy and still have my eco-hat.
Photo of me taking a selfie with Jane.
Jane and I turning round for Will to take a photo of us.
Jane and I posing with an elephant.
Jane and I with our new mate.
Jane and I getting up close and personal with an elephant.
Jane and I with our mate.
We are in the newspaper !
Did not expect to see my face in a newspaper when I started my madventure.
You can read the full article by clicking >here<.