Today started with boarding two private (hallelujah) mini buses to get us to Luang Prabang. The buses felt very luxurious compared to the sticky and rammed public bus we experienced last time, so I really enjoyed the journey on the whole. We climbed 1000ft and found ourselves right in the clouds with rain lashing down around us. The steep drops and very rocky terrain did leave us feeling a little queasy, particularly as we were taking the ‘new’ road which had already eroded thanks to a river running straight through it- clearly the engineers had really done their research before laying that one. It was more than just rocky, there were literally boulders in the road, and evidence of land slides to the right of us. Despite this slightly nerve wracking information, the scenery was exceptional, and something we wouldn’t have seen on a public bus as those buses aren’t capable of making the steep ascent.
When we arrived we found the bear sanctuary straight away- there were about 15 rescue bears in reasonably sized enclosures, all rescued from the illegal animal trade. The charity is definitely doing their best, but I’m pretty sure the bears aren’t too happy in captivity. It’s a hard balance as should these bears not be in captivity they would potentially be in a circus or an unethical zoo. The bears were great to see, but alarmingly close to visitors!
We headed a little further up and found a small area of rock and waterfalls and lagoons where we could swim. I didn’t swim but I did bravely climb on the rocks and perch at the edge to admire the incredible strength of the flowing water. My fear of heights didn’t help, neither did my dodgy balance, but I’m glad I climbed out and returned fully unscathed!
After I had made it back to safety and dried off a little we headed further up the hill and eventually came to a stunning, giant waterfall, reaching hundreds of feet into the sky. The spray was soaking me as I crossed the bridge over the water but it was really refreshing and exhilarating to be covering in fresh water, particularly in the humidity.
I was really enamoured by a little butterfly perched in front of the torrent of water, sunlight flooding through its amber wings. It made for a stunning photo which I have captioned ‘all creatures great and small’- the magnitude of the waterfall was incredible and in every way ‘great’ but so was the delicate and noticeably ‘small’ butterfly perched in front of it.
We climbed even further, this time on a bit of a hike. We clambered up rocks and over mounds of mud before finding ourselves at the foot of a staircase which actually ran through a waterfall. We didn’t have long until our bus was to leave, but we couldn’t miss the opportunity so we walked up through the rushing water to the top. The waterfall was much smaller than the previous one, but standing beneath it the water was so strong and powerful on my back. I was completely soaked, but I’m so glad I did stand beneath it’s rushing waters.