Friday, December 17, 2010

Lao time

I'd be updating more but Laos runs on a kind of slightly slower Indo-time, and even the Internet is affected. So I've kept offline and mostly been out in the bush or on the Mekong or futzing around the many boutique shops of Luang Prabang--where far too many merchants are happy to quote prices in USD--and am now way behind in my travel updates. I head back to Hanoi for an overnight tomorrow and am hoping to rectify some of the slow posting.

Me, Jenn and the driver atop Mrs. Nam.

Until then, a couple images from Laos. Jenn and I got out for an elephant ride yesterday--a definite trip highlight, although the lumbering and strangely bleating pachyderms will win no races; a horse in similar country, if a horse could manage some of the jungle trails, would run fast and easy circles around our elephant friends--and we also hit an old Laotian Buddhist cave. Our elephant, a 35-year-old female named Mrs. Nam, was a retired logging animal who now leads tourists along a heavily wooded jungle trail at about a half-mile-per-hour, stopping often to yank bamboo shoots from the ground and jam them into her maw. She is also a prodigious farter and at one point relieved herself of about 55 gallons of urine. For all that, Mrs. Nam was a gentle and friendly animal. Once we got off and had a chance to pet her and really talk with her, she repeatedly grabbed at me with her trunk and flapped her ears happily. She made eye contact through long lashes and very clearly nodded so long when I said goodbye.

Nam and her mahout.

Luang Prabang is nothing if not picturesque and we've been busy with our little point-and-shoots. Mekong vistas, monks, cute kids, lazing dogs, elephant handlers (today's vocab word: elephant handles are called mahouts), crumbling stupas, temples, and a million statues of Buddha.

The Nam Khan River, north of Luang Prabang.

On a hill opposite Luang Prabang.

Inside Pak Ou cave.

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