Luang Prabang, Laos
I ended up sleeping in again today, no doubt thanks to that bottle of wine I had last night; so I missed the Alms Ceremony again (06:00 is much too early). When I finally did wake up, I got ready ad walked outside to the boat pier to inquire about how much it would cost to travel to Tad Sae Waterfalls; I was told by a couple of boat drivers that the river was too low and that I would need to take a tuk-tuk, which would cost 250,000 kip; having done some research online I knew that that price was very inflated, so I walked away; the price then lowered while I was walking away to 200,000 and then 160,000, which was still way too high, so I kept walking – they can sit there the rest of the day without making any money. I walked to the main road in town and came across a travel agency that had a board advertising daily trips to Kuang Si Waterfalls (the more impressive and touristy waterfalls near Luang Prabang); so I went inside and bought a ticket (paying 50,000 kip – 10,000 more than it really costs since I was using a travel agency, but for the convenience I’ll pay it). I then walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch and had a banana shake, beer, and a Lao pizza (made with Laos sausage, seaweed, and chili sauce). After lunch, I walked back to the guesthouse to change in to swimming trunks and then I walked back to the travel agency. At 13:30, the minivan came and picked me up; then we drove in circles around town to pick up fourteen more passengers. Once the van was full, we drove through winding roads, up and down hills, through the mountains, farms, and jungles. In about forty minutes we made it to Kuang Si Waterfalls. I entered inside the park and followed the trail to the falls, first passing by a bear rescue park that had several black bears (or whatever the Asian variety is) playing around on their jungle sets; then I reached the first tier of the waterfalls and water was flowing everywhere; several spots along the waterfall path had picnic tables and benches standing in the water. I then continued further up passing by several more tiers on the stream’s path before finally reaching the main attraction – a large waterfall that was producing so much mist it felt like I was walking through a rain storm when I crossed the bridge in front of it to reach the other side of the stream. I then climbed up the muddy and slippery trail to reach the top of the waterfalls (this was difficult to do in cheap Walmart flip-flops that had no grip); the top of the waterfalls ended up being a disappointment since it offered no grand view and it was just a large stream with more trees in it; so I carefully climbed back down and went back to the bridge, where I tried to keep from getting wet while playing with my variable neutral density filter to take some photographs of the falls. It was then past 16:00 and I needed to get back to the parking lot by 16:30, so I walked back, taking a few more photos along the way. I then reached the parking lot, waited for the other passengers to make it back, and then we all drove back to town. Once the minivan stopped in Luang Prabang by the night market, which was setting up, I exited and walked back to the guesthouse to work on journals and the website. While inside my room, as the day turned to night, very large, dark, and ominous clouds blew in from the north; soon strong wind, rain, and lightning overtook the city and the storm lasted about an hour; when it died down to not much more than a drizzle, I walked outside to eat dinner; the night market was all but packed away (it was only 20:00), driven away by the storm. I ended up at a restaurant on the main road where I had stir-fried chicken with onions and garlic in a green curry and coconut sauce, Laos-style sausage, a pot of hot jasmine tea, and a large Lao beer. After dinner, I walked back to the guesthouse to continue working on the website. I then laid down for the night.