Around Luang Prabang – being childish and having life questions at the same time
Elephant riding? Elephant feeding? Someone said elephants? When I heard there was an Elephant camp in the area I was like a small child asking her parents (her Bear in this case) to go there. So there we went at the Elephant Village where 14 elephants are kept away from abusive work and cared by veterinarians. They are all in very good shape and seem well looked after and relaxed. I rode an elephant female, fed her, pet and hugged her. She was so cute! They were all cute and somehow I felt they were smiling.
After the fun time with the elephants we visited the nearby Pak Ou caves, where more than 4000 Buddha statues have been gathered during the last couple of hundred years. Lao people come here to bring offerings and pray. While in the upper cave, 2 girls taught us one of the Buddhist traditions in such temples: you shake a bowl with numbers until one number falls down and then you look for a ticket with that number – it will tell about your future! We did it and it seems we’ll have a happy life, the Bear in the business and the Zeb doing good things and being super lucky…
Kuang Si Falls was the following destination, after passing through the “whiskey village” (it is just a small village where locals sell alcohol) where we tasted red and white rice wine and rice whiskey kept in bottles with snakes or lizards inside. The falls are amazingly beautiful, with turquoise water and multiple natural pools at different levels where you can bathe. The water was quite cold, but we could swim with small fishes while enjoying the picturesque jungle-like surroundings. The Bear couldn’t stop taking pictures.
Samsam, a 23 years old man, was our smiling guide for the day. He started to do this job one year ago when he decided to put an end to his monk life after 9 years. “Why did you start being a Buddhist monk at the age of 13?” “It was the only way I could get access to education.” He explained that there is no free public education in Laos, so becoming a monk is the only chance to have time and mentors. “Why did you stop?” “Being the only child of my parents, I am obliged to take care of them when they are old.” Efforts and compromise for education and respect for the elders…that’s what we’ve learnt for Samsam.
My life question some of you already know is still opened: how can we ensure that all children have access to education? If you have any macro ideas, just shoot!