Thanks to my sister-in-law Sarah, who did a detailed research on the best place to learn more about elephants without harming them, we were fortunate to spend 2 days at the Elephant Conservation Center, in Sayaboury. We also wanted to make sure our funds were going to a place that cared deeply about Asian elephants and is involved in the conservation of these gentle giants. We could not have been happier with our stay at ECC.
The ride from Luang Prabang to the ECC was very bumpy and once we arrived in Sayaboury, a truck from the ECC picked us up. After that, we jumped on a boat to the Center. After a delicious home-made lunch, we started the tour of the facility to learn more about the Asian elephants. The staff was very professional and we can certainly feel their passion for elephants! The highlight of our afternoon was certainly the opportunity to ride the elephants, one by one. There were 4 female elephants and their mahouts (handlers). We learned about the commands that each elephant follows. It was super fun to ride them, their skin is a bit rough though! We got to give them some treats afterwards – sugar cane sticks. They all loved it!
We also visited the Center’s elephant hospital with their Spaniard biologist, Annabelle, who was wonderful at providing valuable details about the work the center does all around Laos.
We left the ECC feeling great about the visit and with a new sense of protection, concern, and education towards the livelihood of Elephants.
Our last adventure in Laos with Sarah and Amanda was the upstream Mekong boat cruise from Luang Prabang to Houay Xai, on the boarder with Thailand. Our boat – Shompoo Cruise – was quite comfortable and with a good blend of passengers from several nationalities. We enjoyed the slow pace of the river and scenery and spent our days playing cards, reading and watching the world go by. We spent the night at Pakbeng which is half way between Luang Prabang and Houay Xai, and where we also had a farewall dinner for Sarah and Amanda, together with an early-birthday celebration for Sebastian. The following day, upon arriving in Houay Xai, the girls would cross to Thailand and we would jump into the overnight bus back to Luang Prabang. OK, that was the initial plan but as we arrived at the bus station, we learned that the 4 seats we had reserved had been already sold and we could either sit on the corridor (hellooooo, it’s an overnight trip of 10 hours people!!!) or travel the next day. Can you guess what we did? Yep, we stayed one night in Houay Xai to catch the bus.
Next stop – Vientiane, Laos