We were stuck in this gorgeous little town Luang Prabang, Laos for 6 nights. Clint is still claiming that this one little place is home to the tastiest food he has ever had. Big call, I know… but I second his claim. Each morning we would walk to our local bakery, sit over looking the river, and work our way through their delicious menu. Not to mention that breakfast discussion would often orient around where to eat lunch… and then dinner!!
We have found that people are often surprised to learn of the strong French influence in Laos. An influence which is heavily reflected in their freshly baked goods; baguettes, wholemeal breads, bagels, croissants, banana cakes and chocolate muffins are just to name a delicious few. In addition to their culinary delights, many of the locals also speak French (rather than English) as their second language… So the food, mixed with colourful characteristic streets, night markets, riverside relaxation, and abundance of nearby scenic activities had us hooked!
Tat Kuang Si Falls are a popular tourist side trip from Luang Prabang. There is a marked route to walk along which unfortunately becomes quite overcrowded. However, with a little trekking through the overgrown jungle surroundings we were able to find ourselves completely isolated with these gorgeous turquoise pools and countless small waterfalls. Once we were content with our solo exploration, we continued upstream where we were met with the main fall, a 60 metre cascade.
Within this national park we were also able to visit the the charismatic Asiatic Black Bears (Moon Bears) and the Sun Bears. These gorgeous little guys lived behind the main bear yard and consequently didn’t seem to have as many visitors. I think this is why they put on such an attention seeking show for us. On our arrival they were all lazing about over their play equipment, until one spotted us walking towards their fence and he bolted down to greet us. This then got all their attention, and sure enough each of them followed in suite. We must have stood there alone for about half an hour, watching them run around their yard, stand bolt upright and whack each other in play, rolling off their equipment upside down and carrying on in their pool area. They were an absolute laugh to watch!
After moving on we read the information boards that indicated these particular bears were rescued from Asia’s illegal bile extraction trade. This information also outlined that bear bile is sold throughout Asia as traditional medicine, claiming to treat a range of illnesses from headaches, to diseases of the heart and liver. Thousands of these bears are currently being kept in small cages throughout various regions of Asia and sadly endure a lifetime of painful extractions from their gall bladders. The idiotic reality of this inhumane tradition is that the bile extracted can potentially be harmful to humans, and is able to be replaced by herbal and synthetic medicines that ACTUALLY work. These alternate solutions are cheaper, safer and more effective. Which means the inhumane and torturous trade of bile extraction is completely pointless!