Luang Prabang once capital and royal residence is now a world cultural heritage site and the country’s religious center colonial architecture the only remaining heritage of 60 years of French rule inhabited living and crumbling architecture is everywhere the orange worn by the Buddhist monks sets the visual tone of this city every day just before sunrise the monks come out to receive arms rice vegetables and sweets monks are prohibited from worldly labor they take their arms without any expression of gratitude and return to their temples even the.
Oldest temples are wide open to the life of the city they serve as meeting places passages and playgrounds water snakes so called Nagas guard the roofs everywhere there are.
Animal images symbolic protectors and sources of strength in Laos one animal is worshipped above all others the elephant in the era of its glory Laos was called LAN Xang realm of a million elephants a three-headed elephant was the Royal coat of arms today the number of elephants in Laos is nowhere close to a million nowadays even working elephants are only found in remote provinces they are still used in.
Terrain unfit for tractors and lorries there is a lotion speciality in dealing with elephants whilst in the.
Rest of Asia elephant guides use a sharp metal hook that inflicts pain lotions direct their animals only with a gentle voice nothing is more endearing than a well-trained working elephant but their wild cousins are very different in contrast to their African relatives Asian elephants generally do.
Not live on open grassland but in dense jungle we never even noticed what the local Scout saw immediately a young elephant.
Male in the immediate vicinity the elephant is only 20 meters away males will not tolerate strangers anywhere near our scouts opted for a quick retreat and it’s soon obvious that this was the right decision there are a few places here that offer a wider view this forest clearing is a meeting place for elephants who are attracted by a natural salt deposit the animals.
Dig up the ground to get vital mineral supplies the number of wild elephants in Laos is 500 by some estimates others believe that there are 800 in any case Laos has the most important national elephant population in Indochina how could hundreds of elephants each one as big as a bus remain undiscovered and uncounted over decades one reason is that systemic field research has only just begun another that forest elephants in Asia are more difficult to observe than elephants.
On an African savannah if the akka hunters had ever wanted to know the precise number of elephants in these forests they would certainly have been.
More successful in counting them than Western researchers but to them statistics are a typically Western whim while we with our heavy packs stumble clumsily through the underbrush the our car seemed to glide along the jungle paths with little noise and effort under the canopy of these.
Giant trees Outsiders easily lose their bearings you hear bird calls but cannot tell from where you think you walk.