I took the first bus back in the morning and was planning to meet up with the Holland boys, Harriet and the Irish gals. I ran into the Irish gals first and they were all getting ready to go tubing so I dropped my bags at their place and made the split decision to return to the river with them but NOT drink and try to walk from each bar to the next as much as possible. I was hoping that by returning to the scene of the head cracking incident I would remember what had happened. I taped plastic over my head to cover the stitches and put a bandanna over that and off we went. I was a little nervous when we got into the river but I kept my head well above the water and stuck close to the sides.
I ran into a bunch of people who were there the day of my accident and strangers were coming up to me all day long retelling the story of how they had seen me nearly die in front of them. The one I was most interested in was the video taper that records people swinging off the rope swings all day and replays them each night at QBar. Pride told me that he had caught the entire accident on video but he erased it because he didn’t want footage of a girl dying. The video was played that night at QBar and after showing me and Shannon dropping in the water, the tape just cut off. When I saw him, he gave me a huge hug and couldn’t even believe I was standing there alive. He told me he did indeed have the entire scene on tape but panicked when I was floating face down in blood and when they pulled me out of the water because he thought I was dead and immediately erased it. I was beyond disappointed to hear it had all been captured only to be erased. I watched the spot where I was injured for about 30 minutes and saw so many potential close calls but it didn’t bring back any memories. It was weird to be virtually the only sober person on the river but it was good to run back into a bunch of the friends I had made along the way. Since I never made it through the only day I had been tubing, I didn’t realize how long it was from the last bar to the part where you get out of the river. I was sure to keep my head above water the whole time and stayed on the lookout for drunken fat men falling from above and I made it back to town safely.
The next day I was planning to head with Pride, Rainbow, Beth and Erica to Luang Prabang to chill out for a few days until I had to head back to Vientiene to get my stitches out. Pride and Rainbow took an earlier bus than me because I wanted to spend the day relaxing my swollen head at the Family Guy bar and getting my fix before heading over. I arrived in the late afternoon and headed off to try to find a place to stay and ended up bumping straight into Pride and Rainbow stayed at the same small guesthouse owned by a sweet little man and his wife who shared fresh mangoes with me from their tree out back. Beth and Emma who were with us in Vang Vieng were in the last room so it was all friends in his guesthouse. I had just enough time before the sun was setting so I was heading off towards Phousi temple on the top of the mountain in town to catch the views of the town. On the way I ran into Kate from Vang Vieng and went with her to meet Ella for the sunset. I spent the rest of the night walking around the night market and exploring all the goods and food they had to offer.
The next day I joined our group of friends from Vang Vieng and we enjoyed the Kuang Si waterfalls. They are multi leveled cascading pools large enough to swim around and crystal blue waters. Absolutely amazing! There was a spot for jumping off but of course I wouldn’t be doing any of that. I was able to swim around and enjoy the cool refreshing waters. I was still feeling pretty dizzy every time I sat upright or stood up so I was taking it easy. It was good to spend the day just being mellow and appreciating where I was lucky enough to be.
I decided to join Beth and Emma on their last day in Laos for a day trip to ride the elephants and take them to bathe. I was unsure of this because I have heard of the abuse and mistreatment of elephants for tourism but I also know there are some that treat the elephants well. Either way, I felt like I should try the experience and form my own views. I love the majestic beauty of an elephant and how even though they are massive creatures, they seem so peaceful.
I loved being able to feed them and interact with them when we arrived. When it was time to ride them, it felt awkward to be in this wooden box seat on top of them. We went for a short walk through the jungle and I couldn’t help but feel like the elephant couldn’t possibly be enjoying itself. We came back to the camp and went on a boat trip to see a Buddha Cave and then came back for afternoon bathing with the elephants. This time we rode on the elephant’s neck without the wooden box seat and I felt much better about that. It seemed like it was more comfortable for the elephant. We had to go downhill to the river and the elephant dropped his back legs and sort of drug them behind him. It looked so bizarre and I assumed the elephant was hurt but the guides tried to assure me it was normal for them to walk at a downward slope in that fashion. I was pretty adamant in explaining to the guides that I could not get the top of my head wet at all because of my stitches and to not let the elephant take me underwater. I was trying my best to protect my head with plastic covering or hats and bandanas. It was so hot and sweaty that it was impossible to stay completely dry. It was nice to be in the water with the elephants but I was so nervous about getting dunked.
Beth and Emma were getting thrown off there elephant and dunked like crazy! The guide would use a small handheld thing to jab the elephant to make him throw them off or dunk underwater. I wasn’t too happy to see this because I would think that nobody like to be poked with a hard object in their ribs or hips to get them moving. It would piss me off and I can’t imagine the elephants were too crazy about it. Other than that, I didn’t feel like the elephants were being mistreated but I decided I didn’t need to do anymore elephant tours because I would rather just feed them or pet them instead of ride them. It was a fun day out and I’m happy I tried it out but I don’t need to do it again.
Pride and Rainbow and Emma and Beth were set to leave early the next morning so we all said our goodbyes the night before. It was a sadder than most goodbyes because I had gone through the head injury insanity with them and especially with Pride, who basically saved my life.
I was really bummed to have to say farewell but I absolutely hope to see Pride and Rainbow in Holland someday. When I woke up in the morning, there were notes left from both of them and it made me smile. It’s amazing all the special people you meet in your travels for one reason or another. I felt very blessed to have had such a good group of friends around when my head was cracked. Now I needed a place to recover and rest my weary head and Luang Prabang wasn’t looking like a bad place to relax…..