Monday, February 23, 2009

Travels:Laos. Bears, waterfalls and lanterns. G'bye 2008!

Luang Prabang
Day 12
Wednesday December 31, 08.

Husband J and I decided to spend the last day of 2008 with some bears at the waterfalls. After breakfast, we took a tuktuk to Tat Kwangsi, some 30km outside of Luang Prabang. The ride was pleasant, passing through the countryside, with river creeks and vegetable fields. It was a nice change getting out of town. Ever since I saw a lady with the words "Tat Kwangsi Bear Rescue Centre" written on her t-shirt, I insisted to J we must visit. Rescued animals is something of a "must-see" for me.

We arrived at Tat Kwangsi and paid entrance fee (but of course!) and walked through a beautiful reserved forest area. We got to the waterfalls and it was breathtaking! I have never seen water so blue! At least not from waterfalls! This was one was almost green. To be precise, it was turquoise in colour. The water is clean, as swimming was not allowed near the falls.

Tat Kwangsi Waterfalls

Turquoise water from the waterfalls

We walked a bit more, nearby was the Bear Rescue Centre. There weren't any bears in the enclosure but soon enough, the keepers let them loose and out they come!! These bears were rescued from homes, where owners made them as pets! I don't understand that logic! They are wild animals! They can't be made into pets!! How some people are so ignorant is beneath me. Sadly, this is an almost normal phenomenon in Asia. All of them are orphaned, taken when they were young after their mothers were killed.

But I was happy to see some 11 happy, healthy Moon bears prancing around, with their heads in tree trunks, sniffing out the ground and the like, looking for food. I was fascinated. I could sit there and watch them forever!

Bear Rescue Centre, Tat Kwangsi

So nice to laze in the warm afternoon sun...

J and I bought t-shirts, with the money going to the centre. I was a happy camper. Anyone providing good homes for animals in-need, is in my good books. There also was a tiger sanctuary nearby, but we walked and walked, and searched and searched, and found nothing.

We came out looking for our tuktuk driver for almost half an hour. Damn this drivers - they all looked the same!! Didn't even remember the tuktuk's plate number!! So we went in circles looking for the guy. You'd think, right, at 6' 7'' anyone would instantly recognise J, but nooooooo. No one showed up for awhile. We eventually found our driver and went home.

Back in Luang Prabang, we stopped by at the Dalat Market, said to be the heartbeat of Luang Prabang. Errrrrm....not anymore methinks! It was quiet and there was nothing interesting sold there. I think the main market is now the Hmong Market which happens every night.

Tonight was a little cold. As the night wore on, I was slowly feeling a little uncomfortable . J was stalling me to keep me from going back to the hotel. After all, it's new years eve. It would be interesting to see how they celebrate it here, or if they do at all. Well, they do. There was a concert with local singers singing to bad sound system, and they put tables and chairs along the main street with tents of hotels and restaurants selling food. Everything you need in one place.

At midnight, the locals light up lanterns and let them go up way up into the sky. So they were plenty of lighted lanterns floating, it was quite a sight! So this is how they celebrate New Years in
this neck of the woods. I would imagine, Lao New year would be the same.

Happy new year!!

I'm happy J and I are not in KL this new year's eve. Wonder where will we celebrate 2010...