Thursday, May 14, 2015
This was it. This was what I had been looking froward to.
KUANG SI FALLS.
We wanted to get to the falls early in the morning in order to avoid the crowds, so, Anita, Marcia, Kristen, a guy whose name I can’t remember (oops), and I, hired a tuk tuk to leave at 8:45 am for 30,000 kip round trip (~4 USD). I think the driver wanted one more person to fill the tuk tuk so we spent 15 minutes driving around town. The driver never found a 6th person, so by 9am we started the 30-40 minute drive to Kuang Si Falls.
It was a beautiful drive, minus the rain. Yes, we had decided to go to the falls even though it was raining. We were thinking/hoping that it was going to be a ‘Florida’ rain where it would end quickly.
And man were we right! Not only was there sunshine and blue skies, but we were one of the first ones there!
Time to GO!
The map of Kuang Si Falls:
On the trail to the falls you pass the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center. This rescue center is part of the overall program called “Free the Bears” that also has sanctuaries in Cambodia, Vietnam, and India.
Asiatic Black Bears are the cutest, fluffiest, black bears I have every seen. The rescued bears were originally captured from the wild and held in tiny cages, where their bile was collected for traditional medicine. 🙁 You would never think that these bears had had such a dark past because they seemed so happy! The sanctuary habitats were beautiful, with flowing streams, pools, and toys galore. I was so impressed with the facility, and so moved by the bear’s stories, that I bought a t-shirt to help support the movement “Free the Bears”.
Leaving the bears behind, we walked the falls…
Once I started taking pictures, I forgot about the rest of my group. Eventually I made it to the largest falls and I had two options:
1.) Climb to the very top
2.) Go back and look for the group.
I decided to climb to the top, because I had a feeling the other people in my group were not going to want to climb. I don’t blame them. It was a pretty long hike. I made it worse by choosing the wrong side to climb up, well it wasn’t so much a decision, more like I thought there was only one way up and it happened to be the very hard, very steep side.
These pictures do not do it justice, but trust me, it was very hard. Again, I was the wheezing, 100 year old, obese lady, cursing up the mountain.
As much as I hated every second of the climb, it was so worth it.
For it being the top of a major waterfall, it was amazing how peaceful it was. They made sure to fence off the ledge, but the edge reminded me of an infinity pool.
Every time I walked across these make-shift bridges (see below) I kept thinking,
“Do not fall. Do not fall in the water. Do not get your camera wet”
Slightly nerve-racking. But I made it across, and I didn’t drop my camera!
And now it is time to go down, and luckily the way down was way easier!
Once I was at the bottom, I was hoping to find my group, but no luck. So time to SWIM! As I was getting ready I so these adorable girls playing in the water and I just had to capture that moment!
Here are some shots from my water-proof camera 🙂
I was wearing my shoes in order to help me climb BUT ALSO to keep the weird fish from nibbling at my feet. Not a fun sensation.
Yeah…so….waterfall rocks are slippery. While climbing the rocks, I slipped. If you look at the picture below, I was on the second level (from the bottom) walking towards the right in order to get under the falling water. When I slipped, I instantly thought,
“OMG what if I fall down this waterfall onto the rocks below.”
Understanding, what would happen if I went flying forward, my body dropped, right down onto my shins and knees.
YAY. I didn’t fly forward onto the rocks.
BOO. I fell directly onto my left shin and right knee. Immediate bruise. ** Writing this it is now, it is Monday (about 3 days later) and it still hurts! Slightly disappointed with the lack a colorful bruise 😉
Anyway, I kept swimming.
Check out this guy! I kid you not, this is real life.
Still couldn’t find my group, but I knew we were meeting soon to head back to the hostel, so I decided to grab some lunch!
Mango smoothie, grilled chicken, sticky rice, and the best dipping sauce ever.
The 40 minute ride back, was long. Maybe it was my trek up the mountain, or the sun, or just everything I’ve been doing in general, I was EXHAUSTED.
Anita, Kristen, and I, wanted to tour Ock Pop Tuk, a local weaving place, but we knew we needed to rest. So an hour-ish after getting back to the hostel, we headed towards the center of town. We got to the Ock Pop Tuk store just as they stopped having their tours. Boo. But, Anita and I had time tomorrow, so it wasn’t the end of the world. With time to spare before dinner, we helped Kristen sign up for a cooking class, and hung out at the Bakery Cafe.
A shot along the walk to the Bakery Cafe:
Stare down with a kid 🙂
Snack at Bakery cafe that turned into my dinner 🙂
Once the sun set, we took Kristen to our favorite dinner spot. Pretty full from my snack, I booked my bus to Vientiane while they ate.
The day was unreal. If you are in Luang Prabang, you HAVE to visit Kuang Si Falls!
Love always, Arianna the Wandering Pipette