June 26, Kuang Si Waterfall

The boat trip went up the Mekong river. Kuang Si waterfall is down the Mekong from Luang Prabang. The lower levels of the falls somewhat resemble the falls in Erawan National park in Thailand.

The pools between falls are beautiful for swimming.

Here, as in Erawan, I had little fish nibbling my toes when I went swimming. Here they seemed to be in the deeper water, in Erawan in the shallower water. In Erawan they would nibble me all over, here it was mostly my toes. Maybe my toes tasted better here than in Erawan? The hike was certainly less strenuous.

Another difference is, there didn't seem to be as many russians here. The one man I saw with a Russian-language T-shirt turned out to be from New Zealand. I also talked with people from England, Korea, and the U.S., and there seemed to be some from Germany, Laos (local people), France, and Japan.

The falls at the very top are quite impressive.

Near the entrance to the park is an Asian Bear rescue center. Apparently, for commercial reasons, asian bears are kept in small cages. This rescue center was started to provide a place for owners and others to release the bears into a more healthy environment. The bears were not born in the wild and do not have the skills to live in the forest, so there are no plans to reintroduce them to the wild. However, to stimulate them mentally and physically, their food is hidden around their enclosure, so they have to actively look for it.

Speaking of the environment, this seems to be one of the homes of the beautiful tree Bischoffia Javanica, which unfortunately is one of the invasive species in Hawaii. It was nice to see it here where it belongs.

Kuang Si waterfall is not far from the Mekong river, south of Luang Prabang.

(you can click on the picture for a bigger version)

With so many exposed islands and rocks, the river looks quite low, as indeed I understand it to be in this season. I was also told that this is a dry year. The average precipitation for Luang Prabang in June is about 220mm (I looked it up before I decided to come here), and all I've had so far is occasional drizzles, so I guess I would agree with that statements. It seems much less rainy than Khao Yai, for example.

Along the way, there were many nice rural scenes, including rice terraces and water buffaloes.

The water buffaloes did not seem too pleased to have to vacate the road to let us pass.

Along the way back, there was a nice view of Luang Prabang, with the Mekong on the left and Nam Khan on the right. I think the little hill in the middle is probably Phou Si.

Finally, as I am leaving Luang Prabang, there are a few things I should have mentioned before. One is the Night Market, which is between Phou Si and the royal palace museum.

Unlike night markets I've seen in Taiwan, it mostly sells things of interest to tourists, and does not sell any food. For those not familiar with night markets, they seem to be an excellent idea in places where the weather is hot but the evenings are cool, and people might enjoy spending time outside, eating and shopping at night.

Speaking of food, in Luang Prabang I have enjoyed eating Fondue Laotienne. An aluminum cooking surface is placed on hot coals, and soup is poured around the sides.

The soup comes in a kettle, so more can be added as the soup is consumed.

The vegetables, noodles, and eggs are added to the soup, the meat is placed on the hot cooking surface and eaten with a little brown sauce.

This kind of fondue somewhat resembles the fondue chinoise, except that the meat is grilled rather than boiled. Also, the soup is consumed as such and simultaneously with the meat, rather than at the end of the meal. It is interesting and quite good.

This restaurant seemed to be popular with both locals and tourists.