We were picked up on Saturday morning and taken to Elephant Village. We were grouped up with another Aussie couple and a pair of Americans. A quick cup of tea and then it was straight up on the mounting platform and into the howdah on top of an elephant. As the odd number of the group I got the seat to myself.
It is a well established tour with the mahout taking control down the hill and into the river. We step up onto a small island and the mahout suggests I have a go riding the elephant up on the neck. Of course my answer is "doy", so he hops down, grabs my camera and I move forward onto the neck of the elephant.
And there I stayed for the rest of the trip. There were a couple of unnerving moments during the next river crossing when my mount took a big step off to the side which tested the abs and my ability to hold on with my thighs, but otherwise it was a stable ride. My hips were killing me by the end though as you do have to maintain a bit of a squat position. The professional mahout made a big deal of how easy a day he was having. It was fun.
This was already one of the most memorable and enjoyable days of my life.
We then took a bum-boat ride upriver to a waterfall. This was a beautiful set of pools and small falls throughout a forest with clear blue water. It almost looked fake it was so pretty. If I were setting up a resort with a 'natural' water feature, I would make it look like this.
A buffet lunch back at the Elephant Camp and then back to town for an afternoon of rest. The stifling humidity of the morning turned into a small but powerful storm and so I sat on my balcony, reading a book and enjoyed the storm rattling around me.
For dinner we went to the very french L'elephant. The ratio of french speaking tourists is significantly higher in Luang Prabang than in Vientiane. I wonder if they still have some colonial affinity or something. We eschewed the local cuisine styles of offer as Mum and Dad were getting sick of dealing with spicy food and went full on french. Onion soup with a crouton and gruyere, canard, tart-a-tartin. It was great.
I urge you again - go to Luang Prabang.