Once we got to the sanctuary, we went to see the Asian black bears who had all been rescued and were now being kept in captivity as they were not releasable. Apparently, Chinese medicine believe bear bile is a good remedy for things like headaches, and so they keep bears in small cages where they can easily extract bile from their gall bladders
. Bears are also dismembered and sold for their limbs, as well as used in the wildlife trade. Apparently, bears were also used for dancing in India, but this has since been shut down. The organization had a a lot of rehabilitation information, which was really interesting. We also got to see the bears search for food and honey throughout the toys in their enclosures which was really cool! The bears were really cute. We both bought t- shirts where all the profits go to the organization.
After that we went to the waterfalls! They were spectacular! There were multiple levels which were separated by bright blue pools, most of which you could swim in. We went with the Canadian, Alison, that we met to the top of the falls (another tough hike for my newly fixed sandals). After the hot hike we jumped into the water which was still cold but very refreshing.
We all grabbed a tuk tuk back and parted ways. We made plans with Alison for dinner though! We headed to the water for a snack and some beers, then we headed around looking for a tour for elephant riding, which we still haven't decided on.
We met Alison for dinner at a buffet style restaurant
. We had no idea how it worked but slowly learned. First you grab a bunch of raw noodles, vegetables and meat in a dish. You bring them to your table where you have heated coals in a rock bowl and a metal dish which goes on top. The dish has a raised middle and the deep sides. You pour in and heat broth around the outside of the dish and rub fat on the raised middle part. Then you add veggies and noodles to the broth to cook , along with your choice of spices, and meats and tofu to the raised portion of the dish where it grills. When it's cooked, you dip it into the sauces they provide and enjoy! It was really good!
We then parted ways with Alison and headed back to the hostel to finish off the night relaxing and reading. Hopefully tomorrow night we will have enough energy for the many bars of Luang Prabang.
Today we slept in, an had a late breakfast around 10 on the Mekong. Then we headed to the street to bargain a good price with a tuk tuk to take us to the park Tat Kuang Si. It has both a bear sanctuary as well as waterfalls which you can swim in. On the way we stopped by a man making shoes and paid him a dollar to fix Tori's falling apart sandals. Then we gathered a group of people together on the street (our group consisted of two Belgians, a Canadian and two Irish women) and bartered with a tuk tuk driver for our desired price.