Since we were up early to give alms to the Lao monks we thought we'd head over to the early morning Luang Probang market afterwards (cue: lots of fresh produce; chickens killed to order, live frogs by the box, freshly peeled guineapigs - that sort of thing.) Feeling slightly bilious we quickly whizzed out into the countryside to steal a march on any other early-bird funseekers heading to the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls. Rising 150m up from the forest floor the impossibly cute waterfalls tumble down a limestone outcrop into the pale blue pools below. We were indeed the first to arrive so had the beautiful place to ourselves for a while at least. After taking a few snaps we ate a locally sourced fruit picnic for breakfast at the base of the cascades, climbed up the waterfalls to take in the view over the forest tree-tops from the top and then descended again to swim in the clear blue waters to cool off. The only thing to disturb us was those little fucking fish that nibble at your toes. Be gentle my little nibblers! Still, we had damned clean feet when we got out!
We then dried off and walked through the forest to a nearby black bear sanctuary full of rescue bears (bless) and then headed towards the river where we chartered a boat to take us upstream along the mighty Mekong River for a couple of hours back to Luang Prabang proper. En route we saw lots of fishermen wobbling in their flat-bottomed boats casting their nets wide to earn their keep, some water-buffalo wallowing in the glorious mud to cool off from the late morning sun while we just laid back and drank in the views of the lush green forest as it ran all the way from the river's edge up to the mountains in the distance. Everyone we passed on the riverbank waved to us and beamed their ivory smiles. Such friendly people the Lao.
Back in town with our interest piqued from what we'd seen earlier... we had water-buffalo burgers for lunch! The circle of life, eh?
Earlier on we'd asked our guide about the elephant "sanctuaries" nearby. We had no intention of going to one BTW but he enforced this view by saying, "Please do not go. Yes, you get to ride an elephant but they treat the animals very badly. They work them too hard, don't feed them enough food and hit them with sharp iron hammers on their heads to control them." The dark side of tourism I guess. Poor Nelly.
So it was a waterfalls and water-buffalo kind of a day.