Road Trip - Bolvaen Plateau

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Asia » Laos
October 29th 2011
Published: August 9th 2017
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The town of Pakse doesn't hold much interest for the avid traveler but beyond it lies hidden gems of landscape and culture. We arrived and stayed in Vientiene for a total of 3 hours as we weren't really interested in a city. We just hung out at the internet place before being picked up for the bus south. We were the first to be picked up and it took about 30 min to pick a full tuk tuk worth of falang (Westener in Lao) and there we got our city tour. We arrived in to Pakse about 3 hours late due to our bus having some problem about 30 minutes after leaving Vientiene. The problem took 3 hours to fix and we finally got going. The sleeper bus was pretty good, much better than in Thailand were they have the reclining seat, in Laos its a bed, so it can be easier to get a better nights sleep, unless you have a local with smelly feet next to you.
We did stop at about 4am to change buses where they automatically moved our bags and made an old French guy pretty angry as he couldn't see where it was, we couldn't see Anna's either but in the end everyone's was there.
It was pretty hot in Pakse, we were told around 36 and you could definitely feel it. After finding accommodation we set off for a shower, food and internet. It was way too hot to bother doing anything, so we chilled at the guesthouse till the sun went down and grabbed some dinner and then internet again, but this time I went to plug in my memory card in some dodgy looking computers and sure enough it erased all my photos, not happy. Good thing most of them were backed up, only the stuff from Vang Vieng were lost, but Anna got some so I will steal hers.

The main draw to Pakse is the Bolvean Plateau, an area with many waterfalls and coffee trees. The best way to see this is by motorbike which can be hired cheaply for about $7 per day. We were going to go on a two day road trip in a loop and camp in Tad Lo for the night.
After breakfast and grabbing some lunch for the day we rented a bike, but they are all manual and I had never driven a manual motorbike before. So a quick 3 minute explanation from a guy who didn't speak English and we were off on our little road trip.
Most of the stops are to see waterfalls, but the scenery is beautiful with many coffee plantations and small villages along the way.
Our first stop was Tad Paxuam, with two waterfalls, one being ok and the other one looking really good. Having a bike means you pay a little more as well as entry fees to most of these waterfalls. Riding along the road is so much fun when kids wave and scream "Sabay Di" - Hello. The locals love it and they seem so friendly the more off the main tourist trail you go. For me I think there is no better way than taking a bike around than a tour in a van. You get a better sense of the environment and enjoy it more.
After 80 odd km we arrived in to the small village of Tad Lo. Our aim was to tent here for the night. There are two waterfalls at Tad Lo, the one closer to town I can't remember the name of and Tad Lo waterfall, both are quite nice and at Tad Lo waterfall you can cross a stick made bridge to view it closer.

It rained for a small bit so we sat and waited until it passed and we set about walking the small village town. Its a simple town with a nice authentic feel. We arrived back and set the tent up and headed to a small family run restaurant with a very nice granny sifting through rice and an energetic kid happy to see himself in a photo. The food was great as well.
We set off to a pretty uncomfortable nights sleep as we had no mattress. Our sleep was also interrupted further when some girl on a motorbike stumbled on our tent and decided to stare and shine her bike light towards us for a bit which made us nervous and a little paranoid for the rest of the night. The temperature cooled from quite hot and stuffy to nice and cool and the sound of the waterfall was nice.
We survived, even though you quite often see locals walking with machetes in their hands.
So we packed up and grabbed some breakfast at the same restaurant. It was only 10am and it was already quite warm so we decided to go for a dip in the river, also counting it as a shower. It was cool and refreshing and great because the local kids were doing some fishing with nets and chasing the fish down stream. It's insane to see kids jumping off a 6ish meter bridge with only about a meter clearance underwater.
The area was swarmed of different colored dragonflies, it was a great start to the morning.

So we set off and continued our loop around to the village of Paxson which didn't have much, so it was good we went to Tad Lo for the night instead of the other way around. It was quite quiet around the villages, they seemed like ghost towns, I think it was some special day cause we saw quite a few gatherings going on. After lunch we passed a pretty horrific accident of a small truck and large truck, Anna saw some legs in the smaller truck which had a caved in front.
We pressed on and saw the impressive Tad Nuiang and then Tad Fane waterfalls and finished our roughly 200km round trip exhausted.

We had a pretty great little road trip and Laos keeps on offering the goods, what a great country!

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