Luang Prabang

En route to our destination we made a pitstop at a pretty peak with great views and a small cafeteria.  Snack food in Asia is a multitude of flavors, some flavors westerners may find strange to find on potato chips!
One of many roadside markets we passed on the seven hour dusty journey.
We reached the city in the late afternoon and while Stephane attended a cooking class I took to exploring the the streets.  I wandered around ancient temple grounds, through quaint alleyways lined with charming restaurants and villas, and browsed through several boutiques displaying art, decorative textiles, and antiques.  Before I knew it, hours had passed, the sun was setting, and the night market was coming to life.
The three or four hours the market is open is hardly enough time to feast your eyes on all of the wares; vibrant silks, woven tapestries, handmade paper journals, sparkling metal jewelry, handpainted ceramics, and a multitude of curious antiques. 
Even the monks can’t help themselves!
Throughout South East Asia naga’s, or multi headed snakes or dragons, are placed at the entrances of sacred sites to protect them.
All images by PepperKeyStacie
The heart rate elevating climb up Mount Phou Si
Near panaramic views of the Nam Khan River from the top.
Luang Prabang was perhaps my favorite city of the trip. It was a winning combination of cultural, historical, and natural attractions that finally came together in the same place. I could have stayed here far longer than we had allotted time for.
It was a very difficult decision to set the daily agenda with options such as Kuang Si Fallsock pop tok weaving centre, and The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre .  Watching the film earthlings we were made more aware of elephant abuse.  During our trip to the floating market outside Bangkok our driver had stopped at an elephant ride camp and we witnessed for ourselves the mistreatment of these gentle giants.  All two dozen adults were chained, barely shaded, and heavily scarred.  Their piles of food were minimal and the saddest sight of all was the main “photo attraction” our guide eagerly lead us to; a baby elephant chained heavily to the ground with only a foot of chain link to move about.  The poor animal spun it’s trunk around and round in circles and rocked back and forth, back and forth, with the one foot space it was allowed.  The repetetive movements were a clear sign of terrible distress and psychological trauma.  All of the members of our trip refused to participate and voiced our anger and sympathy for such practices.  After that experience we wanted to do something to help.
   We opted to support the Elephant Village an approved rescue center.
This little girl we saw on our ride demonstrates the best of human nature; to care, nurture, and protect.  It is unimaginable that there are people in the world who can torture living creatures like this.  It is especially difficult to digest that these practices can go on in a Buddhist country where respect for all living things is stressed and the elephant is supposedly revered as a sacred animal.
Our day at the village we learned a great deal about the Earth’s largest land animal.  Their ears radiate heat, flapping them cools their body temperature.  They sweat through their toe nails.  Pregnancy lasts 22 months and a newborn weighs 200 pounds   Their trunks contain 100,000 muscles and are used for breathing, smelling, trumpeting, drinking, and for grabbing things as demonstrated below.
They eat up to 300 pounds of fruit, grasses, bark and roots in just one day, so based on that fact alone,  imagine the cost to provide for just one of these beauties. All the elephants at the village were females, and apparently our two are great friends and the only pair that like to dip completely under water when bathing!  Good thing we are used to going for swims!  To read more on the memory of matriarchs please click here and check out these “interesting facts” from here

Imagine that. An elephant can remember a watering hole they have not visited in fifty years!  I can’t remember where I set my car keys on any given day. An elephant cries under distress, grieves when they lose a family member, and host greeting ceremonies when a wandering member rejoins their group. 
Anyone can see that these intelligent, emotional animals are a lot like us.  Please don’t support their abuse.
Boycott circus shows and inform others why they should as well.  If your traveling and you want to support any type of rescue camp or center, please make certain you are doing so at an approved location.  For those of you traveling to the Caribbean, exact parallels exist for dolphins.  Please boycott the entertainment shows that use and abuse dolphins!

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