Monday, February 11, 2013

Lovely Luang Prabang, Laos

For the second half of our 10 day trip, we hopped a quick flight from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang, Laos.  LP has been one of the most talked about trips from some of our friends and Dave and Em said it was a highlight on their two month honeymoon last year.  We knew we had to go for a visit before tourism overtook this quaint, sleepy town.  Our time in Laos did not dissapoint.  We spent two days in town, taking in the colonial architecture, lazy cafes, fantastic night market and cruising the Mekong River.
Sunset on the Mekong
Monks and Eric crossing the bamboo bridge
After a quick few days in town, we headed for the best Eco Resort, Zen Namkhan, that we have ever stayed at.  We had an amazing bungalow overlooking the Nam Khan river, where we hung out on our patio enjoying the sunrises, sunsets and the cooler weather.  There was only one other person staying at this resort, so Eric and I had the whole resort to ourselves.  It was pure bliss.  We were treated to delicious Lao meals and dined solo at "our private resort" for three days.  It was awesome.  In the mornings we would listen to elephants trumpeting as they crossed the river as we drank our morning tea.  I really don't have enough words for this place.  We fell in love with the resort, the people and the location.  I know we will be back, it was perfect. Here are a few pictures of our stay:

Morning sunrise from our balcony
We hiked to the nearby village and enjoyed Lao hospitality for a morning
The view from the dining room
The spring fed natural pool that felt like Barton Springs...awesome!

The highlight of our entire 10 day trip was our experience at Elephant Village, a quick 5 minute boat ride from our resort.  We participated in the one day mahout training, where we rode the elephants, learned basic commands, took a trip to nearby waterfalls and bathed our elephants in the river.  Overall, this was the most responsible tour we have been on in Asia.  The group was kept small and the elephants were all treated with respect by their handlers.  All of the elephants were rescued from logging and now "earn" their living through responsible tourism.  Hands down, this was one of the best days we have had living in SE Asia.  All I wanted to do was ride an elephant bareback and that was more than accomplished.  The very best part of the day was bathing the elephants in the river, where each of our elephants laid down, completely submerged with us on their back.  A truly memorable and magical experience.  Enjoy the joy on our faces!

Local kids giving treats of sugar cane to the elephants as they passed through the village
Eric the Mahout
Eric channeling his inner Indian Jones
5 1/2 months pregnant riding bareback on an Elephant!!
Eric showing off on his elephant, while mine decided she needed to lay all the way down!
Get ready for the....
Trunk Splash!
Awesome Bath!
The pregnancy dismount!
I can not recommend Luang Prabang enough.  To our friends living in SE Asia, you MUST go for a visit, it's truly awesome!  I am so grateful to have the opportunity to travel and see the world in ways that I never imagined possible.  I hope reading our blog inspires you to travel.  I know that our travel will look different in the upcoming year but our baby has already visited six countries in utero.  I wonder how many stamps he/she will have before we move back stateside....

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