Stuck in the mud in the Bolaven Plateau
Trip Start Mar 18, 2009
134Trip End Jan 12, 2010
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We left Pakse around 10 am and our first stop would be a coffee and tea plantation around 30 kilometres away. Our driver turned out to be a rarity. He signaled when overtaking and didn't try and force motorcycles off the road. A very comfortable drive indeed. Unfortunately his English wasn't the greatest and at times we didn't know when we would arrive at our destination.
The journey through the area was very scenic. The highway seemed to have a permanent incline and at times we were driving through the clouds. Visibility wasn't the greatest and meant we never really got to see how high we actually were. Well, it is the rainy season after all.
Around 40 minutes after we left, we pulled off the highway and parked on a drive outside a large house. We got out of the car and could see the plantation through a walkway. Our driver said we could walk through and off we went. Left to our own devices we wandered around and saw a large crop of tea and coffee plants. We immediately thought to ourselves, how many people will have actually seen tea and coffee in its rawest form? Coffee in particular seemed to grow on the branches of a tree; strange.
Inside the house, one of the plantation workers had set up a tasting session for us. The teas were delicious! Unfortunately I can't describe the taste of the coffee, as it isn't my favorite drink. It was hard enough just smelling the different types of beans :) We did however buy two bags of coffee beans for our parents to enjoy!
Okay our next journey would take us to Tad Fane waterfall, the most impressive in Laos. The Lonely Planet described it as a spectacular sight, as water cascades down the 120 metre verge and the surrounding vegetation was home to the rare hornbill during the wet season. How lucky for us!
Our driver turned off the highway onto an unsigned dirt track and the road got extremely bumpy. We both looked and smiled at each other several times as it seemed our driver wasn't that car smart after all. He kept on stalling and leaving the car in gear, causing it to kangaroo when the ignition was turned. The conditions were awful to be fair, but that only turned out to be the start of it.
In the distance we could see a steep dip and incline and thought that the car might get stuck, especially if it stalled. Luckily he stopped the car and decided this must be the wrong way and performed a miraculous u-turn to our delight. However the road back to the highway was now uphill, extremely muddy and filled with pot holes. This was going to take a long time!
It got so bad at one point, that we were thinking of pushing the car up the hill ourselves :) Our driver must have been feeling the pressure, so we jumped out and let him drive up the road in his own time. Meeting him at the top to continue our journey. The local kids found it to be quite funny and a small crowd gathered to watch! To be fair to him, he managed it in the end. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to write this blog and we would probably still be there!
Back on the highway we soon found out the next turn was for Tad Fane waterfall. We parked outside the eco lodge and paid the 5,000 kip each to enter. The sound of the falls was amazing, however a fog seemed to be snaking through the trees towards us. This didn't look good and to our disappointment the falls were completely hidden from view. Our visibility was probably about a foot. All we could do was laugh about it!
Before we moved on to the next set of falls we decided to have lunch in the restaurant. Cheese and tuna sandwiches with french fries, just what we needed. Even at times in the restaurant the fog would creep in and I nearly disappeared from view across the table. Hmmm, we wondered whether the next set of falls would be the same and if we should actually make the journey there.
As it turns out, we were glad we did, even though the roads to Yaung Waterfall were even worse than before and we got out of the car from the beginning to let our driver tackle them on his own. Once there, a set of steps lead us to the top of the cascade where a daring family seemed to pose for photos on the slippery path near them. A little further was another set of steps taking you to the base of the falls. A little treacherous but definitely worth it. The view was breathtaking!!!
The sheer power of the waterfall meant that a huge cloud of spray enveloped the path, drenching anyone brave enough to step out onto it. I tried a couple of times to get some photos, but the risk of soaking the camera was a little too great, but I do think the photos we took in the end do it justice.
That was our taste of the Bolaven Plateau and we headed back to Pakse soon after to have dinner and wait for the night bus to Vientiane. Imagine this, a large bus packed with single and double beds! It does sound like something Asia would conjure up. Anyway we will take some photos for you on our next blog.