Hello from Laos, everyone!
What an unbelievable last week it has been. I feel like so much has happened in just a couple of days, it’s hard to keep track of everything we’ve done, of all the people we’ve met. Here are some of the highlights:
-A day trip of elephant riding. AMAZING. We even got to see a baby elephant, who was just three weeks old! Cutest thing in the world. I wanted to steal him, but his mother was hovering very protectively. We rode the adult elephants for about an hour, sitting on the little chair that most of these touristy places provide. It was amazing, but I hate how the elephants are shackled and chained up. I think we are actually going to go on a two day elephant-camping trek, in which we learn to bathe and ride the elephants ourselves, bareback. I might have a small panic attack mounting one of the huge guys, but they are so gentle and loving, I think maybe I can try to connect with them. When our elephant let us off, I thanked him and he raised his trunk to my hand. It was lovely.
-We then went on a hike up a mountain , swam in a waterfall, and then went white water rafting. The problem with the rafting and waterfall bit was that Thailand is in its dry season now, so the water levels were super low. Thus, there was a lot of “RIGHT!” “LEFT” and such directions being yelled at us by our guide, and I energetically was hurling my body in every direction, trying to get the boat to move. My rafting mates were not as zealous as I was, but they got a kick out of my energy. It was a great time, and then we went on a bamboo cruise (which was more like being dragged through a dirty river because this guy from Canada was driving…just kidding Ryan J). The day was one of the best I’ve had here. We returned to our hostel (which we loved and through which we met our newest travel companions). Two days later, seven of us (the original four, plus our friends Dewi, Georgie, and Olly) headed out on a long boat to Laos. Picture a house on a boat, with leather seats, and that’s exactly what it looked like. It was an amazing experience, cruising down the Mekong River, the heart of Southeast Asia, watching the mountains looming in the distance and occasionally fishermen setting out their nets in rocky coves. It was like a trip down a different decade, a different century. We arrived in Luang Pra Bang, Laos this evening, and checked into a lovely hostel/hotel where we’ll be staying for the next two nights. Friday we are hopefully going on the elephant trek, which will go into Saturday. From there, who knows?
Every day here I feel like I’m conquering some new challenge, some new issue. My first week or two were plagued by the fear that I didn’t have a plan and what could someone like me do with that? And I have come to beautifully accept this plan-lessness and have really started to embrace it. Hygiene has gone out the window, as has any desire to make myself look appealing. It’s Laos and it’s hot and I’m perpetually covered in sunscreen and bugspray. And I’m totally okay with it. Last night I discovered a party of cockroaches in the bathroom. My new tactic is to flash a lot of lights at them and sing to them, and then do my business after they scurry away. I think this is called growth.
Sitting in my seat on our houseboat, watching the mist clear from the palm tree-covered mountains, watching the fishermen cast their nets and the Laotian children play in the muddied water, I smiled, shook my head at the craziness of this all, and became overpowered with the feeling that this was all just so right.