I now am in Luang Prabang, Laos, after having taken a two day boat journey down the Mae Kong river from the Thailand Boarder. The boat trip was lovely in and of itself: a nice slow meandering journey through jungle landscapes, beautifully arching hillsides extending into the distance. This being loose and laid back Laos, we were free to light up whatever we felt like, kick back in the cool breeze and watch the scenery go sliding by. My travel companion, Raviv, a kind, polite Israeli man, and I passed the hours reading, chatting and lazily snoozing. I did get up to some writing but not nearly enough; I'm still so far behind in documenting the last month!! Upon our arrival to Luang Prabang we found a nice clean guest house that actually provides towels! This is my marker for an extra fancy guest house, and lovely luxury as my travel towel is dinky and just about as absorbent as a sheet of cardboard.
The following day we lost no time in venturing out to visit the main tourist attraction out of Luang Prabang which is the Kuan Si Waterfall. My travel partner, two other Israeli men we met on the slow boat, and I began the search for a tuk tuk taxi, resulting in the one hilarious circus of a morning. My Israeli counterparts wouldn't settle for anything but the lowest deal possible and the taxi drivers wouldn't settle for any less than 6 passengers, two more than our number of four. Thus we spent over an hour driving in circles around the small down town cat calling at other tourists in attempt to get them aboard our taxi, first in one tuk tuk, then, after becoming angry and impatient with our driver, switching to another and continuing the same activity. This approach, of course, did not work. No one wants to be catcalled into a tuk tuk. At the end of our patience we demanded the driver leave for the waterfall immediately, and dumb luck had it that at this moment we picked up two extra tourists. At last, we set off for the waterfall.
Once reaching the site and dutifully paying for the 20,000 kip ticket that no one checks, we quickly realized that all the trials were well worth the end result. This place looked like it had sprung to life off the pages of a story book. The dense jungle was lush green and verdant as ever with winding earthen pathways of a moist deep brown and woven over and between small pristinely clear brooks. The light filtered through the narrow gaps in the voliage and flitted like glittering insects across the plants and pathways of the forest floor. We walked in silence along these pathways, stopping now and then to let the panorama of sounds fill our ears: the shimmering hum of jungle insects, the quiet burbling song of the stream, and the twitter and caw of jungle birds. Soon we came upon the first of a series of swimming pools created by the river which flows from below the waterfall. The pools are absolutely striking in their beauty as the water is the color of misty turquoise, set over a backdrop of striking green jungle. The water is cool, refreshing and absolutely perfect for swimming. At the main lower pool there is a rope for all the monkeys (read: humans) to swing from and go flying, in every incarnation of silly mid-air flail and dance, into the water below. You can also swim up to the cascading lower falls and sit beneath them (on the most perfectly placed and smoothed underwater boulders) for a relaxing water massage. The water below these short falls is deep an you can even walk above these falls to jump from the top into the frothing churning waters below. In short, this swimming spot is another of nature's perfectly sculpted playgrounds.
And this is just the first swimming hole. Up the river there are more story book pages unfolding before your eyes, more misty blue water over flowing gently from one misty blue pool into another, more damp, dense jungle opening its arms just wide enough to let this shimmering river flow through. The water itself feels so nice against your skin; its concentrated minerals feel nourishing somehow. Little fish hover around the rocks in the water and will clean your skin for you, whether you want them to or not. They especially love to clean your wounds, which leaves one feeling worried yet thankful, thinking perhaps it is a good thing for the skin after all.
Continuing up the path, we came upon the big mama, the mother Waterfall of this whole water wonderland we have discovered.She is a powerful cascade, creating a steady breeze in her waters wake. The mist at her base is cool and as soft as an iced kiss. I'm simply speechless, grinning like the moon and pinned, unable to move. When at last I prize myself from her gaze, I explore some acrobatic possibilities offered by the bridge stretching to the opposite shore. From there, I climbed the steep, wet and dense earthen path, winding over tree roots, under low jungle canopy, up steps dug into the earth, up and up and up even farther, to the origin of this majestic fall. The water at the brink of the fall was quiet and still, in sharp contrast to the rush and roar of her daughter below. This incarnation of the river was peaceful, haunting, and beautiful; a clear water lagoon twinkling in the filtered light. The eye of the forest nymph twinkled back. Well above the brink of the fall, the waters were smooth and slow, quite safe for swimming and yet still someohow dark and uninviting in the low canopy. But a tree there called to me so I sprung into the emerald water and whisked myself up the tree's easily sloping trunk, firm and strong as an elephant's. Hanging like an enlightened monkey from the branches of this tree, a familiar idea flowers in me: acrobatics in the natural element. My body the tool to dance in all dimensions across her contours.
All in due course.
At one point in the day I managed to capture a video of me hula hooping in front of some of the pristine overflowing pools of the lower falls. I couldn't imagine a more idyllic backdrop for a hoop video. A place like this makes you sit for a moment in complete and utter wonder that the random forces of nature, the minerals, the algaes, and everything in between, were at work over all these centuries, creating experiential artwork for the sake of it.
Take a look for yourself in the photos below and tell me what this place inspires in you.
A fiery fairy who has set off to explore Asia and discover new things about the world and herself. The journey is one to fully realize her strength and an unwaivering faith in her personal power.