Tag Archives: laos

laos elephant festival

I had heard about the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury, Laos from Cara, a friend we had traveled with for a few weeks. Volunteering at this center had been one of the highlights of her trip and she strongly recommended it. While reading up on it I came across the annual Laos Elephant Festival that was going to be held in Sayaboury on February 17-19. Since the conservation center was a little pricey, and this festival had been started by them, I thought it sounded like a great alternative and something we were fortunate enough to be in Laos at the right time to see! They forecast over 80,000 people and 60+ elephants — and for a town of only 16,000 people this should be quite the show!

Elephants decorated for opening ceremonies and headed for a quick meal before the show.

Elephants decorated for opening ceremonies and headed for a snack before the show.

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Lao PDR: where time doesn’t exist

We spent a whopping twelve days in Laos. Even with six months to spend in Southeast Asia, we found ourselves running out of time. There simply isn’t enough time to see everything we want to, and this regrettably meant that Laos and Cambodia got short-changed. We met a German couple who had already spent 4 weeks in Laos last year, were in the middle of a 6 week trip this year, and still had only seen a tiny portion of Laos! I will have to make it back one day, though 10 weeks seems extreme.

We walked into Laos from Thailand across one of the Thai-Laos Friendship bridges. We found out later that this is illegal — you are supposed to cross via bus or vehicle — but no one seemed to notice or care that we had used our feet. At customs, I met a friendly Laotian man, Q*, who lived in Las Vegas for most of the year. On the basis of my Vietnamese heritage, he gave us a quick lift into Vientiane, the capital city.

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konglor cave

I am not a cave person. I find them grotesque and eerie. They’re dark and dank, and I can never remember which is a stalagmite and which is the other stala-thing. Public education, baby!

Also, nothing good ever happens in caves. That’s where Gollum lived and went bald, and Frodo got burdened with wins the ring after an annoying game of riddles. Harry has to force Dumbledore to drink poison in a cave for a POS horcrux that ends up being a fake. And the Buddha found enlightenment in a cave… ok, maybe some good things happen in caves. But mostly bad.

The highlight of our 4-day motorbike tour of central Laos was a visit to Konglor Cave, a massive hole in a mountain that you can float through on a river. I wasn’t super stoked to see it, but it turned out to be pretty sweet.

the entrance to Konglor Cave

the entrance to Konglor Cave

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anecdotes, episode 3

There are so many little things that happen each day that I don’t want to forget. Anecdotes are a collection of these mini-stories or adventures. Also known as “filler material” for when I don’t have anything else to blog about.

sometimes, language is unnecessary
Matt and I were in yet another minivan, this time from Vientiane to Luang Prabang in Laos. I ended up sitting next to a pair of Korean guys, one older in maybe his 50s or 60s, and the other younger, in his late 30s or 40s. The older guy was against one window, the younger guy sitting in the middle, and me against the other window / panel door.

Depending on my mood, I will either engage my seatmates too much (wait, you’re telling me there are people who don’t want to talk to me for 9 hours straight…?) or not at all. If I perceive there to be a language barrier, I usually won’t try to talk to people. These two seemed a bit severe, or maybe my preconceived notions told me that they were, so I assumed the van-riding position: I put in my head phones and unfocused my eyes.

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