Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 54 - National Museum and Kouang Si Waterfalls

The National Museum/Royal Palace Museum was closed yesterday when I visited because it was during lunch hours, so I headed there early in the morning to catch a visit before heading to one of the famous waterfalls on the outskirts of the city.

The Royal Palace was the main residence of King Sisavang Vong in the early 20th century before being converted to a museum. You could catch a glimpse of the living arrangements of the Royal Family, including the bedrooms of the King and Queen as well as the childrens' rooms. One of the rooms near the front of the palace was painted with various scenes of city life in Luang Prabang, each highlighted at different times of the day by the sunlight shining through the windows. I wish I could provide pictures, but no cameras were allowed inside the Palace.

At the back of the museum grounds was a photo exhibition called "The Floating Buddha" which housed a collection of photographs of novice monks at a retreat learning about the practice of meditation. The retreat was created because meditation was often neglected or less important and they were trying to revive it, or at least teach these monks how to do it. There was a quote used at the introduction to the exhibit of what of the Buddhist teachings:
Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya - nothing whatsoever should be clung to
I could see why such a saying is fundamental to successful meditation, because you really have to let go of everything to clear your mind and transform yourself into another state of consciousness. Is there compassion and connection if you don't cling onto anything though? What about love?

Afterwards, we took a minivan to the Kouang Si waterfalls, about 30 km from town. At the start of the trek up the waterfall was a bear enclosure with bears that were taken from the wild and kept safe from poachers. It's sad to think that we have to capture these animals and create an artificial habitat for them to live in, just to protect them.

The entire waterfall is multi-tiered, and it took a while to get to the top, but along the way, you could stop and take a dip in the cold waters. It was different than other waterfalls that I have seen because the falls were not too high but more like powerful streams, except for the main waterfall at the top. It started to really pour by the time we got to the top and we found ourselves trapped seeking shelter at the restaurant at the top, waiting for the opportunity to trek down when the rain stopped. That opportunity never came and we had to get back to the minivan by a certain time, so we ran down, getting soaked from the pouring rain.

Back at the city center, Agoes left for Thailand, and I decided to stay for a couple more days. I visited the local Red Cross because someone recommended their massages and herbal sauna room. The sauna room was nowhere as hot as the sauna in Vientiene, but was nice nonetheless. I decided near the end of the night to book an Elephant Mahout Training for 2 days and 1 night starting tomorrow. Can't wait to see the elephants tomorrow!

Kouang Si Waterfall

Wat Ho Pha Bang

Photo Exhibit at the National Museum

Wat Ho Pha Bang

Bear Enclosure

Kouang Si Waterfall


  1. Hey Philip!
    Just had a look to your blog.
    You posted on Chouchsurfing! So I am also in Nepal in October.
    Maybe we can meet up! Would be lovely to hear some travel stories from you!

    See ya! Sylvia

  2. Let's definitely meet up in Nepal!