We arrived in thakek and immediately met 2 lads from Australia James and Jeourgen and shared a tuk tuk into the centre. We settled into our spacious room and collected a whole bin bag of laundry and went for som food. Normally you can walk down any side road for people who can do your washing, however it was just our luck that Thakek was different. We spent 20 minutes taking various directions from different locals before finally giving our sack over to the happiest and giggles woman yet - she spoke no English but gladly accepted our offering of dirty clothes with a smile. We then scooted off to have drinks with the Aussie lads.
Next morning Freddy and Yvonne arrived and the 6 of us had breakfast, got mopeds and set out to explore the surrounding caves and waterfalls. Thakek s monsoon season had definitely set in and lots of the roads were turned into swampy sludge. This made for very interesting riding! Jack did exceptionally well to keep us on 2 wheels despite Char anxiety on the back. She was wearing hr only clean white top so its to be expected. The firs cave was in a beautiful little village with very friendly locals. The dry season river crossing road was closed so redirected through the temple and across a rickety wooden suspension bridge. The cave was bigger than expected, it was full of brightly painted idols and there was a secret room with carpets a gong and a shrine inside. We then headed back down the same swampy sludge track past beautiful rice paddies. Again we managed the drive unscathed but jorgen was not so lucky in keeping his clothes clean. We biked another 7km through stunning mountains with rice paddies in any available flat land. We keep commenting that the views we see would make beautiful canvases but every time the pictures don't do these views justice! The next cave was ginormous! We walked and climbed through huge caverns of stalagmites and stalactites, it was breathtaking. We then took a very wobbly boat through the labyrinth of waterways deep into the cave. The ceilings were so high and in places water was gushing through holes. Our boat boy decided it would be fun to paddle straight through one, and so did we, it looked great.. it was a lot of water, and verrry cold!! At the end we walked up to the top of the cave where it opened to dense jungle, another very steep and slippery climb but worth it to see how enormous the cave was and see the sun shining off the falling water down into the cave. During the drive back the sky looked menacing and the wind had appeared from nowhere, no sooner had we pulled over had the skies opened and a 45 minute downpour ensued. We had plans to meet everyone for dinner but the storm returned with a vengeance. The lightening was so powerful and followed so quickly by a massive thunderclap that we thought it must have hit the hotel because the power lapsed momentarily. All internet and therefore all communication ceases to exist during storms so plans had to change that evening!