Another early start to the day and on with the hiking boots as today we were to be trekking, first through some traditional Laos villages and then onwards through the countryside to end at the well-known local attraction of Khoung Si Waterfall. We had not had the best of sleeps beforehand though as, during the night, there had been a very very loud downpour. At one point I had woken up during it and it seemed to me that our bed had been transported to one of those recesses you see on the films behind the waterfall – such was the noise and roar of the rain. The din of the heavy storm meant that we ended up missing our alarm and we also still ached like mad from yesterday’s exertions training the elephants. So, long story short, we had missed breakfast so ended up grabbing a filled bun as we ran to get to the trekking place.
The first village was a Khmu village that was about an hour’s drive out from Luang Prabang and as the transport’s seats were wooden this turned out to be quite a difficult trip on the bum. It turned out that we would not be alone for our trek today as with us in the back of the wagon was a young Malay guy called Jokhang. Anyhow, we disembarked but at the village there was no-one home, nobody at all to chat to, so we just had a quick look around and nearly tripped over a piglet or two before we picked up a local guide who was to lead the way for the first part of our trek.
This village then almost melted into the second and this was populated by a different tribe, the Hmong. Here at least there were a few women and girls embroidering and we also saw an old guy who was making baskets out of reeds. At one point we stopped at a small ‘stall’ on the grass run by a couple of very small girls whose business was making bracelets. So charmed were we by the whole scene and the girls themselves that we bought a couple of friendship bracelets from them. Then after our rash purchases we left the village and headed onwards into the jungle, some of which was absolutely stunning. I am still not sure that words like ‘lush’ and ‘verdant’ really do justice to the greenery of the Laos jungle.
The rains of the previous night though were making the way very slippery indeed and I fell over three times even though our guide had tried to help us by making us all walking sticks. Jokhang was struggling with the conditions very early on and found himself a style of jogging along which seemed to work well for him, although he was not falling so often, when he did fall two or three times they were quite heavy tumbles. The trek and the slipperiness of the trail was beginning to take quite a toll on us and our legs. Even though we had previously walked much greater distances on this walk we often needed to stop for drinks and the like as it was so very humid under the trees.
For all of our aches and pains, it had still been a good walk but we eventually found ourselves at the top of the waterfall and after a quick photo opportunity we headed on down towards the bottom where we were to be having our lunch. The picnic area was quite delightful and although there were not many people about as we ate. you could tell that the entire place was well attended. So after the food we got changed and stumbled along into the pools of the falls proper and this was nice and cold, which came as a good respite for our aching feet.
It was somewhat rocky though so getting in and out was a bit trickier than we had hoped it would be. Anyhow for a good while we lounged about and as I had the GoPro I took some photos of ourselves and a couple for Jokhang so I could email them onto him. It was just as we were about to get out that the heavens opened, much as they had done the night before and it seemed that we were now surrounded by the waterfall such was the force of the rain and to make matters worse we still had to get changed back into our walking stuff.
There was a little hut where everyone was hurling out from the torrents and we found a little corner to get changed. So we managed to dry ourselves very slightly and then got our gear back on though everything ended up being pretty much soaked it had still been quite a good laugh at the falls. To save ourselves from any further soaking we donned our ponchos and then our little party went to go and see the Sun Bears at the fall’s rehabilitation centre. The little guys were enjoying the weather much more than we were and there was plenty of toys should they get bored too. I suppose that watching us trudge past in our blue ponchos probably cheered their day up too. So bears visited, we left the falls and it was a slow trudge back up the hill to the car park where the truck was waiting to take us back to Luang Prabang. On the return drive our guide regaled us with tales of him breaking most of his bones whilst he had been mountain biking and driving in the local area. He also explained to us that he had been abroad which was no mean trick for a Laotian to do as getting out of the country is both very expensive and quite well controlled.
Once back at the hotel we rested ourselves in the room just to give our legs a bit of a chance of recovery. Once rested though we were off out for tea and we grabbed pizzas, Western fare and to be fair it was passable. I suppose the lesson here is that when in Laos, eat Laos! So to recover from our meal we went for a few drinks at an Aussie bar we had espied earlier. The place though contained no Aussies, or they were undercover, but instead we did get chatting to a couple of Germans who were really good company. She was an ex-dancer who could still do the splits and gave us a demonstration and he (Fabian) was a chimney sweep. As in England it turns out that ‘sweeps’ are considered lucky for weddings in Germany too. We had a really good laugh with them but they had to leave and then we got chatting to a young Canadian lady called ….. Charlotte Elizabeth Hughes! My wife is called Elizabeth Hughes, so a strange and not a little amazing kind of coincidence, what a way to end the day eh!