A trip to the Bolaven Plataeu

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February 2nd 2019
Published: February 2nd 2019
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Bolaven Plateau

This morning we are off on a tour of the Boleven Plateau so we are up early for breakfast and an 8am pickup.

The minibus is a pleasant surprise...decent seats and seat belts...which work! We are not the first pick up so our seats are near the back. We decide to move one seat forward sitting separately. We are fed up of bouncy back seats! This turns out to be a smart move as the lady sitting beside me disembarks after 30 minutes, leaving a double seat for us. It appears that she was just being delivered to the bus terminal.

Now we are just 11 in a 14 seater bus and we are on our way.

We have reached our first stop - Tad Fan. This dual waterfall comes tumbling out of the forest, dropping its load 120 metres into the invisible valley bottom below. We stop to watch a couple of brave tourists who have signed up for the zip wire experience. They are followed by the organiser - a young Laotian who is demonstrating his acrobatic prowess by flipping upside down on the wire.

Now we are at Lak40 coffee and tea. It’s refreshing to see that there is absolutely no pretence here. They are not going to explain the coffee and tea making process, we are just here to buy their overpriced coffee. They do allow us to wander round their worker-less bean crop sheds and coffee plantation, the produce from which has already been harvested.

The circular plantation route takes us past boxes buzzing with honey bees and on to a sign warning us not to enter! Then we are back at the coffee shop. Never mind, it’s a nice cool break and we never had any high expectations concerning this part of the tour. :-)

On to Tad Yuang waterfall. Here we have our work cut out. We have been deposited at the top, but in order to see the falls in all their glory, it is necessary to descend a steep concrete stairway to the bottom. It’s a challenge to do it in the 40 minutes allocated. These twin torrents drop 40 metres and give a refreshing light shower to those that make it to the bottom.

As it turns out we’re not the last to be back at the bus so there’s time to take some arty shots in the tourist tat arcade which has some quirky decorations including rows of floating conical hats. :-) It’s 11.30am and very hot now - I am tempted to buy a ‘happy ice cream’ until I remember that we have been warned that anything containing the word ‘happy’ means that it contains marijuana. Maybe not today.

Our next stop is at a Plateau village. We were expecting tourist tat, but no, it really is a ‘poorest of the poor’ place. It feels intrusive and we’re not terribly comfortable wandering round. The path is liberally fertilised with large animal droppings so we need to take care where we step. There is a group of semi-timid yet somewhat curious children watching us from behind a farm vehicle. There is also an old lady who waves at me. Fortunately I have my goody bag with me today so I am able to offer soaps, shampoos and toothbrushes purloined from hotels along the way. The village trip is concluded at the market where slim pickings are on sale - mainly bananas and nuts. I distribute the last of my toiletry offerings.

It’s time for lunch so off we go, stopping at another waterfall. It’s not so spectacular but we have been promised swimming in the pools at the base. So, after a chicken noodle soup in the scenic falls-side restaurant, we pick our way over rocks and dodgy plank bridges to the base of the river.

We have now reached the area deemed safe for swimming. It would appear that everyone has wimped out except for me. Not to be deterred, I gingerly make my way into the water. It’s warmer than I expected, but refreshing. It looks quite clear but I keep my mouth closed all the same. There’s a bit of a current as should be expected at the base of a waterfall. It enables me to drift gently downstream without much effort. At the far end I get out and walk back along the bank.

Our driver tells me that we will be leaving in 15 minutes - we have one more village to visit. Do we have to, I ask? He laughs although I doubt he understands my meaning.

A group of women are begging us to buy from their stall. How much, I ask, pointing at a large bag of almonds - 5000 kip (50p). If only we could export them!

We have arrived at the ‘weaving village’ cum tourist trap hut selling woven products at exorbitant prices. A group groan goes out as we shepherded off the bus. We do the rounds and try to look interested but it is still hot and a long drive back to Pakse awaits. We have all had a good day but now we just want to go back.

Back in Pakse, its almost time for dinner. We pick up our laundry, shower and repack our bags for tomorrow’s move. We are storing one bag here and taking the other with us so that means completely emptying our bags to decide what should stay and what should go!

We decide to return to the Indian for dinner. We had a good meal there last night. Rogan josh, butter chicken, potato aloo, rice and nan goes down well with a large bottle of Lao beer.

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