The timing of our trip to Luang Prabang in 2015 was a serendipitous confluence of 3 events: the international film festival, the 20th anniversary of the city’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage City, and the culmination of a 400 kilometer Elephant Caravan.

The word was that something like 90 elephants would be walked through the town on Saturday, as part of a big parade of all kinds of civic and ethnic groups celebrating the UNESCO designation. That was going to be a sight to see, so I scurried up to the main drag right after breakfast.

Already the street was lined with crowds of citizens and tourists, and paraders were marching by, all kinds of people from the many ethnic groups in Laos. My phone camera was smoking, there were so many beautiful costumes and fabics to photograph.

Bill turned up after a bit and we watched and watched, and waited in anticipation of the elephants. The people just kept coming. And the crowds! Who knew there were so many people in and around this quiet, sleepy town? It seemed like everyone was represented: schools, civic groups, monks, music bands, weavers’ guilds, dancers, martial arts schools, puppeteers and Buddhist floats…

  • It's selfie time in Laos
    It's selfie time in Laos

But the elephants never came. I was disappointed, being particularly high on elephants since we had been to the elephant camp a day before. It had been decided that the crowds were too much for them, and given how much damage one panicked pachyderm could cause if it bolted into a crowd, it was a wise decision. Afterwards, the traffic gridlock and the fumes were hellacious. We escaped to the riverfront to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Garuda and peace sign
Garuda and peace sign

The next day we were signed up for a Secret Waterfall Hike that would change our trip. Stay tuned…

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