Monday, March 7, 2011
A gentle wake up today - no alarm clocks at all. Another relaxing breakfast of the famous pancakes with cinnamon butter, but alas there was no syrup today - more had been ordered yesterday but it did not arrive in time for breakfast. 

After breakfast, we drove for about 45 minutes to the Kuang Si Falls. What a lovely area - lots of big, shady trees and pathways leading into the forest. Before we arrived at the waterfalls, we stopped in at the bear rescue sanctuary run by the Free the Bears Fund. There are over 20 Asiatic black bears here and one sun bear that have been freed from captivity. Most of these bears were rescued from Asian bile farms, where the bears live a miserable existence in tiny cages while their bile ducts are “farmed” for so-called medicinal purposes - there is no scientific evidence of such medicinal benefits. Thankfully, all the bears at the sanctuary are doing well and are recovering from their terrible experiences.

Amantaka has a special relationship with the bear sanctuary that allowed us to go inside the bear enclosure and hide food for them in various nooks and crannies. This was a lot of fun. After hiding the food, we were taken inside their den, where we got to see the bears up close and feed a couple of them by hand. This was a great experience and we were grateful for the opportunity to learn so much about the good work that is being done here. We would encourage anyone reading this to visit more information.

We continued on our way to the waterfalls and were impressed with the beauty of the whole area. There are waterfalls and cascade pools all over the place. We hiked up to the top of the falls and waded through the river to come back down the other side. It was fantastic! After we had climbed down, we went for a cool-down swim in one of the pools - a great thing to do to escape the heat.

Following our swim, we made our way back to the bear sanctuary in search of the only other geocache here in the Luang Prabang area. We had to ask the local folks for the “kong”. After much amusement, the “kongkeeper” was located and we made the find.

Before heading back to Amantaka, we went looking for some bamboo-woven sticky rice cooking and serving containers. We found what we were looking for and bought them. Hopefully, we can find sticky rice when we get back to Canada! 

As we drove back to Luang Prabang, we stopped from time to time to hand out the last of the toys and candies we had brought from Canada to give to various young children we came across. The look of joy and appreciation on their faces was a delight to see.

Back at Amantaka, we had lunch by our pool. The red curry chicken was spectacular as was the mushroom puff pastry appetizer. A quiet evening is in store as we enjoy our last night here. 

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