You can imagine people getting stuck in Luang Prabang. We have arrived towards the end of the rainy season and although it is mostly muggy and hot, we can start the day in a cool breeze. As the day wears on the clouds over the surrounding hills evaporate and we scuttle around looking for shade or air conditioning as we pace around the neighbouring streets, inventing chores to get us out and about. We dodge the motorbikes and Tuc Tucs looking for customers as we weave from side to side trying to locate the shade. Clucking hens surprised me perched in the roadside trees in the centre of town!
We collected car parts again from the Post Office as recommended by the garage in Chengdu. Needless to say the car is still no better and further parts have been ordered!
In between the monasteries and drifting orange clad Buddhist monks, every street is packed with eateries or shops selling cloth and clothes fabricated in the villages. These guys were up early to collect alms in the form of rice, very early in the morning.
They have mastered the art of marketing to young travellers to a T. There are bars overlooking the Mekong where you can lounge to the strains of Bob Marley, eating hamburgers and sipping early cocktails to benefit from the promotions.
During the day young travellers take to rented motorbikes and in droves explore the neighbouring Hmong villages and jungle paths, which are full of lush vegetation and fields of bright green rice.
Local market stores sell dodgy IPhones and sun glasses amongst the piles of brightly coloured cloth.
There are many tours advertised to outlying waterfalls, various elephant sanctuaries and river boat cruises a plenty. The rains are gradually stopping and the water levels in the muddy rivers are dropping rapidly and the rich soil revealed is being rapidly cultivated along the shore line.
Yesterday we took ourselves off up the Mekong with a small group to visit a weaving villages noted for selling many locally weaved fabrics.
Also brewing local spirits marketed in bottles containing the parts of dead snakes or scorpions!
Caves accessible only by boat were packed with Buddhist statues.
The restaurant for the lunch stop had a tame herd of elephants resting in shady woods.
We arrived at their lunchtime and we fed them with baskets full of sugar cane before they trundled off in convoy to have a dip in the Mekong, each with a local rider on their backs, issuing instructions to emerse in the water to get cool, clean and hydrated.
These elephants looked super healthy and they were not shackled and appeared well cared for and well fed.
After lunch we were whisked off in a minibus to visit the Kuong Si waterfalls. There was also a black bear sanctuary. Apparently these creatures are hunted and captured for their body parts which are prized for medicines.
The series of waterfalls amongst the forest paths and tall trees were phenomenal.
There was just about time to take a dip in the waters before heading back to town.
Here in the evening, Jim sloped off to see a film in a relaxed cafe who offered free screenings in return for buying a beer or a meal. (I saw a viewing of Oceans Eight a few days earlier and was surprised to see it was all about a heist at the Met Ball and inevitably had short scenes including Anna Wintour at her desk etc.)