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Published: February 22nd 2018
Awake early and anticipate breakfast. Walk into main street and book tickets for Kuang Si Waterfall, 30kms out of town. Just the mini-van, no tour guide or cave add-ons, thank you.
Leisurely walk around town, and picked up 11.30am as stated. Bit of an interesting journey, and we eventually arrive at the fall at 12.50pm which took longer than anticipated. We reckon we had the two most interesting seats in the overfilled mini-van, Paula next to driver, Leo front passenger. a bit cramped for two tall Westerners. This road adds a whole new dimension to potholes! The traffic is relatively light so we navigate most without damage, but we agree this route would be a definite 'No No' at night.
Driver says 'back at bus by 3.30pm. This is great news, as we only expected two hours free time.
We walk through the bustling village at the base of the falls, pay our driver the 20,000 Kip each for our entrance fee, £2pp, which we later say was absolutely worth the money, then join the hordes of like-minded tourists.
First port of call is a Bear Rescue Sanctuary. Sadly, in parts of Asia, Black
Bears are kept in captivity, to extract their bile, which is used extensively in Chinese medicines. The creatures are kept in appalling conditions, so we welcome this initiative to rescue some of these poor animals and provide a decent natural environment. We spend quite some time watching them play and eat.
Just past here is the first waterfall and many Tourists get no further, disrobing in the very good facilities, they rush to bathe in pristine, milky blue/green waters,( apparently the colouration is due to limestone particles). We came prepared to swim but decide to first explore the upper levels. So leaving practically everyone behind, we venture upwards, and finding the 'up only' route, head to the top of the highest falls. It is quite demanding and we get hotter and hotter and sweatier!
Quite interesting underfoot as the route changes from hard mud, to rock, then a wooden steep stairway, partly climbing through one of the feeder waterfalls but not slippery as the surface is non slip. Its one of those moments we you look at your feet and don't look up or down until you reach the top. We got there and discovered yet
another beautiful natural swimming pool, with at least a dozen energetic bathers, enjoying the stunning simplicity of this area. Moving along the bamboo walkways, we cross the top of the falls, and start making our way downwards. Paula is not comfortable at this point. The 'down' pathways are steeper, steps deeper, handrails lower, it is a slow and fraught journey back to the bottom, where we realise we have less than an hour before returning to our mini-van.
On our way back, which incidentally took less than an hour, we reflect upon the beauty of these falls and how pleased we are that we decided to visit. Having a 6pm Dinner reservation at the Tamarind, we have just enough time to refresh at our guest house before setting off. We are hungry!
The menu is traditional Laotian fare, with finnesse, and it takes a time to read. At first Leo thinks we should leave a d try somewhere else, as nothing sounds edible. But, we realise after careful consideration that many dishes can be adjusted for western tastes.
Eventually, we decide on Buffalo with tripe and buffalo bile, Lemongrass stuffed with chicken and basil, Laotian steamed vegetables,
and the inevitable sticky rice. Paula did have to demonstrate to Leo how to eat the Lemongrass/Chicken dish, as he was gamely trying to chew his way through the Lemongrass to get to the chicken! We actually declined the Buffalo tripe and bile, although it was tempting!
The restaurant was full by 6.20pm and Paula carefully notes that almost all the diners take equally long to make their meal selections, the menu being a little complex. Photos attached to explain more fully. We anxiously awaited our order, with more than a little trepidation, however, it was delicious. We managed to almost clear the plates. Presentation, taste, superb fusion of herbs and spices, medium hot, not too spicy! We couldn't dash off home, but slowly strolled back through town, did a little window shopping, a little nightcap, back to our room to prepare for the next day's trip to Nong Khiaw.
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