For our first full day in Luang Prabang, we started at the ethnology museum. There are three major and several minor ethnic groups that comprise the population; we learned a bit about their origins, clothing, and cultures. Then we drove out of town to a beautiful waterfall, where we swam in the limestone pools.
On the way out, we visited a bear sanctuary.
Our dinner was a home-cooked sampler of all the most popular Lao dishes. Before the meal, we were welcomed by three elderly women who tied friendship strings around each wrist while reciting a blessing.
The food was delicious, but sitting on cushions on the floor for so long was a challenge. I spoke with our hostess a while. During the day, the room we were in, which faces the street, is transformed into a beauty parlor. She also owns land near the waterfall we’d visited, and she is gradually developing it into an orchard and homestead. The Laotian people, especially the women, seem extraordinarily hard-working and enterprising.
Next day we had a bunch of optional activities to choose from, but the entire mob of us decided to ride elephants.
For the first part of our experience, several of us rode “bareback,” with our mahouts (elephant wranglers) riding behind us, down a steep hill to the nearby river, where the elephants seemed delighted to drink and bathe.
Then the benches were strapped to the animals’ backs, and we rode two by two through the forest.
Partway through that walk, I was invited to play the mahout again, riding behind the ears and controlling Tumbi, our 45-year-old female, with verbal commands. Pie! Pie, Tumbi! means go, How, How! means stop, Pie sie means go left, Pie kwa means go right. Elephants are very careful about where they put their feet. They move along quite slowly, and sometimes like to think awhile about the best way to negotiate obstacles. Tumbi would sway back and forth, looking things over for a minute or two. Tumbi contemplated the climb out of the river for quite some time, but practically sprinted up the hill once home and food were in view. We arrived safely and thanked Tumbi with some bananas before saying goodbye to her.
Back in Luang Prabang, I ventured out on my own to the night market. I bought a few small items, and also scoped out the textiles. I was hoping to purchase some handwoven fabrics, but it was so difficult to tell what was authentic and good quality, and what wasn’t. I went back to the hotel to do more research.This entry was posted in Honeymoon 2013
One thought on “How to ride an elephant”
Hi Denise and Karel, Denise,your mom has shared your adventures with me.WOW!what a dream come true.