Checking my trip to the Kuang Si waterfalls
This morning I got up a little earlier, and I decide to drink less tonight. First I walk to the guesthouse to discuss the trip to Kuang Si waterfalls which I tried to book yesterday. The landlady has already talked to the bellboy. She confirms everything has been arranged. The waterfall tour is booked at his brother’s office; I have my doubts as to whether that is so, but it seems to be settled anyway. During breakfast, he tells me that he has to work here until noon and asks me to come back at that time. He will then take me to the travel office where we will leave at 1.30 pm. That is different than we had agreed yesterday when it was said that I would be picked up at my guesthouse. That doesn’t really show professionalism.
Today the National Museum in Luang Prabang is open
After breakfast, I try to visit the National Museum. This time it is open. There are mainly items from the Royal family on display. And also an extensive collection of Buddhas from the temples of Luang Prabang. In less than an hour, I am through and walk back to the street where I am staying. I drink a fruit shake and immediately and order a sandwich to take with me this afternoon.
Another stroll along the Mekong
At 12 o’clock I report to the guesthouse again: our boy leaves by bike, I follow him on foot. Jokingly, he urges me to hurry up. Professional error number two. At the travel office, one of the staff tells me I have to be back there at 1.15 pm for the trip to the Kuang Si waterfalls. What a lousy organization. To kill time I walk a bit along the Mekong river.
Not too confident in some young Laotions running a tour agency
Around a quarter past one, I show up at the office again. A couple of young Laotians are having lunch there. They apparently run this office. I am not at ease, partly because nobody makes an effort to give some explanation. I even intend if it should turn out that I am the only one who has to go out with one of these guys to just give up the whole trip. But a little after half past two a minibus stops in front of the door, filled with a colorful party, a couple of Englishmen, two Japanese, another Asian couple and an Australian duo.
Endangered species hiding in a cage
Over a bumpy path, we drive to the Kuang Si waterfalls, a trip of about an hour. Once there, I go my own. On the way to the waterfalls, you pass a tiger behind a fence. I don’t get the chance to photograph the animal, as it is hiding. At the cage, there is an explanation about the endangered survival of these species in Laos. You are asked not to purchase any products that are related to these animals. Thus, the hunting of these animals may stop, and their survival can be assured. This captured specimen has a sensitizing function, the text mentions further.
A beautiful piece of nature at Kuang Si waterfalls
A little further I reach the largest of the Kuang Si waterfalls; it has a fall of approximately 60 meters, with bright blue water at the bottom. You can climb one level higher, which I tried initially, but when I am notified that I have to take off my shoes on the way to continue on a somewhat slippery path, I quit. So I decide to follow the trail downstream where I come across several beautiful sceneries. Afterward, I try to catch a glimpse of the tiger again, but it is still hiding in its cage.
A Hmong community lacking authenticity
Then I walk back to the parking lot where we have to wait until the group is complete again. We leave to visit a Hmong village. However, it turns out to be an outright tourist trap; the place is just a collection of stalls with fabrics, baby carriers, necklaces, and the like. Back in the van, there is another proof of the lack of authenticity here; several children are begging for 10,000 Lao Kip notes. One of the Englishmen, one who was bragging about the journeys he has already made, actually gives a bank note. I am not the only one in the group which is slightly upset about this. First, he has been photographing half the village with an expensive digital camera, and then he appeases his conscience with a note of 1,000 Lao Kip.
Drop off at the central market
We drive back to Luang Prabang where we get dropped at the central market place. The driver asks to receive the tickets. I never had one, so I continue my way. After an early dinner at half past seven, I walk past some bars, but as there are hardly any customers, I just drift off to my guesthouse.