With the same friends, all anguishing with equivalent ailments of stomach distress, sweats, fatigue, we forge through our discomfort and head to the magnificent Kuang Si waterfalls one hour out of town by tuk-tuk. The water will perhaps cleanse our illness, remove our woes, rinse our digestive tracts of MSG. The French brother from my two previous bus rides and constant cruises around town is the only one still intact, stereotypically chain smoking out the tuk-tuk and sharing his prior evening events drinking Pastis and watching Petanque by the river. Lucky bastard.
The ride itself is nonetheless GRAND, passing by the raw, unspoiled beauty common in this region of Laos. No bombs/humans have touched this land, which is astounding for Laos is the most brutally bombed country per capita in history; the results of the Vietnam War left Laos contaminated with massive quantities of unexploded ordnance (UXO.) The US now spends millions of dollars to rectify the situation but innocent causalities are still common as more than 30% of the bombs did not detonate. I don’t recall ever studying much about Laos in my childhood education and send light to those who suffered then and continue to experience the aftermath of the horrific war. LOVE to Laos.
The short walk up the path to the falls features a bear rescue center where Asiatic black bears have been rescued by the Lao authorities from the illegal wildlife trade. The bears lay in hammocks and play with homemade stumps filled with snacks and seem overall content (and super cute!) The organization vows to preserve the happiness of the bears and therefore often creates new toys/games to keep them intellectually challenged. Cute and smart! These bears in particular are mostly preyed on mostly for their bile, a substance used mostly by the Chinese as an herbal remedy. The removal of bile from the bears is not only an excruciating procedure it often results in their death. I am certain there are other medicines than bear bile on the market…some ancient practices clearly no longer serve the good of all.
A short journey and we reach the base of the waterfall, a pristine blue pool with soft cascades. Climbing further up hill is a multitude of falls with joyful tourists and locals alike, swimming, swinging from a rope tied to a tall tree, laying on the rocks, picnicking and drinking liters of Lao Lao beer. It is an impeccable way to enjoy the afternoon and request healing. I sit under a gushing cascade and ask the cold water to rid my body of illness and then sit in meditation under a tree by the middle reservoir and learn that my Canadian sister is doing work ethereally to heal us all. Thank you sister, sincerely.
My camera battery is unfortunately dead, the last picture with my awesome French friend (he has the hot pink shirt) so you will have to imagine the beauty of the fall (or check it on google.) GORGEOUS. Truth.
I rest most of the night feeling the need to run but cannot yet bear the 8 plus hour bus ride to my next destination. And as I lay in bed I ponder over those I have crossed paths with in Luang Prabang. I am too old/not interested in the Lao Lao beer guzzling backpacking crowd (usually European kids just out of high school or the Israeli army) and too young for the much older couples (mostly Europeans 50 or 60 years old.) I am very content traveling alone, being my yogi self, but I’m curious where the mid-age adults are. Is every one home making babies? Ahhh… life is interesting for sure.
It is time to move. Intestine, pull it together!