Camping in Laos?!

Trip Start Jan 01, 2011
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16
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Trip End Mar 21, 2011


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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Khammouan,
Thursday, January 27, 2011

This morning we met back up with the Stray bus to begin our journey through the south of Laos. We found out that instead of going to Ban Na for the elephant observatory, we would be going to the Tad Leuk waterfalls to camp! Apparently, the last 3 times they went to the elephant tower, they say no elephants and the price was very expensive.

We drove for about 2 hours from Vientiane and stopped in town prior to going out to the national park where the waterfalls are located. We had to buy enough food for lunch, dinner and breakfast the next morning as there is nothing out there with the exception of a park ranger's hut and toilets.

When we arrived, we walked around the waterfalls which were really dry at this time of year (we are currently traveling in the dry season) as the rangers set up our tents. As we sat down to read our books, I got bit by a big red ant. Boy did it sting – the pinchers on it were huge! The shock of being pitched was the worst part. I just have a little red dot where it got me.

Later in the afternoon, we went on a group trek on a nature trail. It turned out to be very peaceful and was more what I expected for our Chiang Mai trek. The path was flat with a couple small hills and there were 4 bridges for us to cross.

When we returned from our hike (which only took us 45 minutes while the sign said 1-2 hours), we all sat around the fire. Jeff and a fellow traveler tried to make fire by rubbing bamboo together but were unsuccessful. This fellow traveler, who is a bit of a character, made his own soup over the campfire, so we all watched this progress.

Later into the evening it was time for the nude photo. You did read that correctly. As part of Stray’s advertising in Asia, they are putting together a nude calendar. This is apparently quite popular in the UK. The two guides and two other travelers participated and posed in front of the Stray bus with a guitar, Beerlao and patapples. Everyone found this quite hilarious. Now you may be wondering what a patapple is. This is the name that we have given one of the local vegetables here. To all of us, it tastes like a cross between a potato and an apple. When we tried roasting it over a campfire, it almost became like a roasted carrot.

As the fire died down and the evening wore on, we enjoyed the night sky. Camping with no nearby lights allowed us a spectacular view of the stars.

When we headed to bed, we quickly got into the tent to make sure that no bugs followed us. Once inside there was a really strange sound coming from under the floor of the tent. It sounded like sheets of rain hitting the tent. We got out and had a look. Turned out there was a big swarm of ants under the tent. Jeff relocated the tent and we had to put parts of it back together. As I grabbed the tent cover, one of the ants ended up on my finger and it pinched me! I was not pleased – two ant pinchings in one day two too many. After checking that there were no ants inside the tent, we headed off to sleep on our thin sleeping mats and bags without pillows.
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