An elegant sufficiency

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fun on the river

Before we left, a couple of people asked if our trip was likely to be affected by the flooding which beset this area the weekend before last. To be truthful, we had no idea, even when we reached Vietnam and had access to local news and papers.

Today, a trip upriver to the Pak Ou caves was our first encounter with the aftermath of what looks to have been one of the highest waters in many years. The riverbank bore clear marks of the recent flood and the mud was still there to be cleared from many places including the steps where we boarded our boat. It was very loosely packed and rather slippery - don't ask me how I know (or why I wore very pale grey trousers for the trip...but it does wash out!)

The cave is situated high on the bank of the river, in limestone rocks and is reached by steps from a small landing stage. It's full of buddhas, large and small and is a quite remarkable place.

As we returned to our boat down the steps, we could see the high water marks - the highest white line there is the famous 1966 flood, recalled by our guide Ming as a devastating event in her childhood. The two lower marks are both 2008 - not quite as overwhelming but quite enough to make a fair bit of mess. The water has gone down somewhat but still has some way to go.
Back in Luang Prabang we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Three Elephants restaurant. We rather liked the placemats, too.
All that rain has its benefits however, for when we got to the Kwang Si waterfalls we were privileged to see the most spectacular show imaginable. Mind you, the high water hasn't done much for the viewing platforms.

We drove back through the most glorious Lao countryside - teak forests an rice paddies with water buffalo grazing by the side of the road here and there.

During a short stop at a very muddy Hmong village we observed how wherever there is mud, there is a small boy or two not far away having a great time!

We were soon back at our lovely bolthole - the view from our window was beautiful. Nearly as good as the one through the bottom of a G&T glass shortly afterwards...



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