|Luang Prabang, Laos
Northern Lao is a terrific spot for the great outdoors! We took advantage of a clear sunny day to get some physical activity under our belts. We started out with a short 10 km bike ride through the mountains and fields or rural Lao. Unfortunately, the many ups and downs of the dirt road required our undivided attention, so it was hard to fully appreciate the scenery as we were biking through it. (I suppose this is a common mountain biking occurrence, but not a frequent mountain biker, I didn't quite realize that!) However, we were able to take enough water breaks and pit stops to get our scenery viewing in! And it turns out we could have stopped more than we did -with Ann pace setting, we arrived at our destination in about half the expected time! (For those of you who don't know, she is a very practiced biker.)
Its a good thing that our destination was a wildlife resort where they had trekking elephants. We bought a bunch of green bananas and had a ball feeding one of the elephants. It was a little scary -he didn't grab the banana with his trunk, but instead we had to put it into his mouth where he took it with his tongue! I don't think I've ever seen an elephant tongue that close!
After lunch, it was time to head back to town, but instead of biking we threw some kayaks in the Nam Khan and went back by river! I always enjoy being on the water, and like the rivers in VietNam, there was a lot of activity on the river's edge. There was also plenty of activity in the river -small boys fishing with makeshift spear guns (a stick, rubber band, and metal spear -and they were pretty good!) and men and women pulling stone and gravel from the river's bed. But unlike VietNam, the Nam Khan was also a playground for plenty of Lao children. They were swimming, splashing, playing, and riding rapids. What fun and carefree days! The river was refreshingly cool, but the sun was brutal -and here toward the end of the dry season, the river was slower than normal. That meant a good bit of paddling, and by the time we could see the exit point ahead, we were more than ready to get out. We finished the day absolutely exhausted -I guess that's why they call it exercise!