Swimming with Elephants was NOT the plan!

Trip Start Jul 22, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I was told that the tour van would pick me up between 8h30 and 9am. It's 9 and still no van. I've been waiting on the veranda. Shortly after one of the guest house employees comes upstairs and asks me if I'm going on an Elephant tour. I say yes and she says the van driver is there. I head downstairs. The tour guide shows me the pick-up slip. The address is all wrong. They're parked a block away on main street. There are 4 people in the van from England. We have 2 more people to pick up. They're from Argentina but living in New York.

We arrive at the Elephant Village after a very rough ride. We watch another group get their first lesson on an elephant. We've been taught the various commands, Pie-move forward, Sai-turn left, Kwa-turn right, and the most important, How-STOP!. lol

Then we get our turn. The elephant kneels and we climb up. Then it's a short ride around the compound. After we all get our turns we wait around for our 1 hour ride. This time we get a bench to sit on. Partway through the ride I get to drive. The Mahoot moves to the bench and I get on the elephant's neck. We're in the river at this time and I'm holding on to my expensive camera trying not to take a swan dive.

Back at the compound and we have lunch. We lay in the sun for a while as they get our elephants that we get to wash in the river. This time we're the drivers all the way. No bench to sit on. Our guide has everyone's camera with the exception of mine. I also have my waterproof pocket camera with me. Once in the water one of the other Mahoots gets his elephant to kneel. The young woman from England has already been panicking throughout the ride and is now drenched and screaming.

My Mahoot makes me move to the elephant's back as he wants to take my picture. I start washing the elephant as it kneels on all four. Then the Mahoot makes me stand up for a shot. Yes! I'm elephant surfing. I sit back down and the Mahoot wants me to move further back. And then...I go for a swim. I ran out of elephant.

Back on the elephant and I get some great shots of the others. Shots that they don't have as their cameras are on the shore with the guide.

Back on shore and we start drying off. We're heading upriver in a canoe to see a waterfall. Once there we have something to drink and chat about our travels. The young woman from England has a major cut in one finger from a drinking accident last week. Stumbling over something, she fell on a scooter and tore a lot of skin off. The elephant ride has re-opened the wound. She has a band-aid but I offer her some antibiotic cream I have in a mini first aid kit in my daypack. When she goes to use it the package is empty. Completely sealed from my new large first aid kit. The others say it's the thought that counts. But still!

Back to the Elephant Village and the rough ride back to town. I rest, shower than head over to meet Nao.

I order some supper. As we're chatting she calls a friend of hers, Pitk. Then Nao hands me the phone to chat with Pitk. Looks like someone is trying to do some match-making. And all along I thought Nao was interested in me. We go for a drive to her resort. It's dark but I had already checked out her website. It's amazing. Check it out. http://vangngernresort.com/index.html

On the way back to town Nao calls Pitk. Says we're going to stop by at the resort that she manages. We get there and within 5 minutes Nao is asking me what I think of Pitk. Nao has no shame. We chat a while. Then Nao mentions that there's another woman I should meet. We leave and stop at a Japanese restaurant where this other woman works. I know already that if I really was looking that I'd prefer Pitk to this woman. We leave and head back to Nao's restaurant. She continues to badger me about what I think about Pitk. Then she starts texting Pitk asking her if she's interested in me.

Nao wants me to stay in town longer. She even offers me the job of managing her resort. It's getting late and I have to be up early for the long bus ride to Vientiane. I say I'll sleep on it, decide in the morning, or that maybe I'll be back in a month. We have each others' email addresses. She asks me again about Pitk. I say I'll stop in and chat some more with her. The resort she works at is near my guest house (or so I've been lead to believe).

As I get up from the table, Nao pleads (jokingly I think), Please don't go, Please don't go! She really is interested, even though she's been trying to pawn me off on her friends. Nao is 46 and has that native look of a lot of the Lao women. She's, like, under 5ft tall, and has a great sense of humor. I could be interested, or, I could just do it for the money. She is quite successful. I say I'll be in touch as I leave.

I start wandering across the river to find Pitk and before I get totally lost, at midnight, head back to my room. No extra chatting with Pitk. Yes, she was kinda cute. If Nao looked like Pitk(37), I just might have stuck around for a few extra days.

More on the continuing saga of the women in my life later.

Think It! Feel It! Live It! Love It!

PS. I did see numerous younger Lao women with older non-Lao men. BTW. Nao did mention to me that she's not interested in Asian men. That seems to be a popular sentiment with other Lao women from what I've seen.
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