Tad lo trials, trails and tales...
Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
35Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Phrasebook at the ready, we managed to get chucked off at roughly the right place. Unfortunately for us "roughly" meant a 40 minute slog up a hill to reach the first signs of life. Was it not for the sheer beauty and serenity of that first sight, we probably would have arrived rather grumpily, but it was hard to suppress happinness given the circumstances no matter how backpack torn our spines felt! Imagine, if you will, the sun setting over a village made mostly of bamboo, in front of which a wide shallow river slowly flowed by with local children dancing along the banks and tribal women washing their hand woven linen
The village clearly wasn't completely estranged by the presence of travellers. There were a couple of well set up little haunts servicing most of the needs of any would-be explorer (food, water, beer). We stopped to fill our bellies before deciding on where to sleep for the night. We ended up opting for bedding down in a cabin cobbled together from bamboo and rattan in one of the locals back gardens over looking the river. Far more our style than the conventional hostel! We even had the pleasure of hosting a small family of rats! Unnerving until we spotted what was making things go bump in the night, after that we grew quite fond of the little creatures. After all, these were the jungle variety rather than the sewer kind, much more endearing.
We awoke the following morning with the sun rising over the same blissful scene we witnessed the previous evening. We wandered down the peaceful street we had slept on until we found a sign outside a shack that had the word "Brrekfust" engraved in it. Score! Entering the shack we encountered a very short, very sleepy old lady, along with the ever present chickens and a couple of feisty little puppies
Whilst scoffing down our brekky a possibly serious issue dawned on us. We realised we were close to running out of money. Knowing it was a silly question we did ask whether there was an ATM in town; the look of confusion on the wise jedi's face confirmed our worries. Of course there wasn't an ATM here, why would there be? The village folk still lived simple lives of hunting, gathering and farming, they had no need for such modernities. Sadly, we admitted dependence on such a facility and set about resolving the matter. After conversing with several locals each with varying levels of broken english we were presented with two options. We could either "hire" a man to drive one of us 45km down the road to the nearest town of any considerable size, or rent another fellows scooter and drive ourselves. The second option proved to be cheaper and more adventurous so we went ahead and hopped on. A 3 minute lesson later I was fully qualified to drive a semi-automatic for the first time. Alice jumped on the back with a slight tremble and we took to the road
My initial fears were soon transformed into excitement with the open road ahead. Laos would definitly be the country of choice for on-the-job learning any day, the roads were almost divoid of life, except for the odd make-shift tractor and pig-carrying motorbike. We whizzed past the rice paddies admiring the different shades of green that surrounded us on every side. Doe eyed water buffalo were dotted around the fields along with their farmers who shouted out to us cordially. The countryside of the Bolaven Plateau, and of the whole country for that matter, could be likened to that of Wales, only 100 times better. Buffalo replaced sheep, hunters replaced shaggers and palm trees were in the place of welsh shrubs! It even rained more, as we later found out...
Arriving in the small town of Salavan we decided to indulge in the local culture by sampling the central market. The locals here seemed much more surprised to encounter a white person, which made for some comedic encounters. Several stalls we stacked high with different grades of home grown tabacco, which gave the market a surprisingly sweet and pleasant aroma. Venturing deeper we sampled some mystery food, some of which was delicious, some of which wasn't. And finally the pungent odour of flesh indicated we were nearing the "butchers".
As we had already experienced, the meat section in Asian markets wasn't for the faint hearted, we'd had the cat and dog massacre back in China and the unbearable smell of sun dried fish and heat induced rotting red meat in Cambodia, but this was going to be something different all together
Monetary mission accomplished we hit the road once more, only to be hit with intermittent typhoons which made the journey all the more exciting! We toiled with our emergency ponchos (fluorescent bin bags with hoods) for a short while before admitting defeat as this was no english summer drizzle! This was the equivalent to firemen opening their hose on you every 5 minutes, a true drenching like no other!
We dodged some a the larger spurts by tumbling into local snack shacks much to the surprise of the owners within. We were always greeted with laughter and nice dry plastic or bamboo furniture.
As we had rented the bike for a full day we thought it would be silly to let torrential rain put us off venturing into the hills in search of the 110m high cascade of Tad Song
Each small settlement consisted of roughly 15 large wooden houses built around a communal square where various primitive farming equipment was housed. We paused to greet a few farmers and to try and make sense of any directions to Tad Song.
Eventually, worryingly near sun down, we arrive at a steep downward-bound set of dirt steps. We slipped and slided down them doing our best to not break any bones and were rewarded for our muddy efforts upon arriving at the bottom.
Despite the downpour that day, the rainy season had only just begun and this meant that the flow was little more than a trickle, but this wasn't to say the view was anything short of fan-bloody-tastic! We were stood atop the fall rather being conventionally at the foot and the panorama was truly something to behold. One might jump to the conclusion that I'm being hyperbolic when describing the sight when looking at the pictures alone, but rest assured that in person it really was quite astonishing
The following days were more relaxed but by no means less entertaining. We spent hours in the surrounding forest searching for weird and wonderful insects, as well as spending time meditating on mid-river rocks to the sound of gushing water. Among the creatures found in the forest were stick insects, dung beetles, fire tailed skinks and even the odd elephant! Which, although domesticised, are always something to gawp at.
Although we would have been happy to spend months where we were it was soon time to move on up the country in search of the next adventure. We were reluctant but never regretful, as outrageously great a time we had in Tadlo, the next stop was a cracker!
So stay tuned folks, I might get the next story out there in under 3 months this time, you never know, stranger things have happened!
- The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one. -
And on that note I'm off to climb to Formula one fence!
Tarah, TTFN and toodle-pip to all!
Pee.Es. - And a happy English hallmark holiday to all the mothers out there!