The ninety minute turbo-prop flight provided by Lao Airlines was uneventful. After we collected our bags, we spotted a man with a sign for our hotel, so we jumped on the courtesy bus.
We settled into our hotel which is situated right on the Mekong river, our room has a beautiful view and we were delighted to watch the sunset from our large picture window. After our lovely boutique hotel in Vientiane, this big hotel in Pakse was a bit of change but it’s incredibly good value by Western standards.
Pakse is the adventure playground of Southern Laos, which is not the reason we are here, as we are definitely not going to give zip-lining a go! That’s for the brave youngsters, seriously fit with strong hearts.
Yesterday, we went on a five-hour trek up to the Boloven plateau.
Open this link for some amazing photos of Boleven Plateau in public domain.
Open this link for our own best photos of the day.
We were picked up at our hotel at 8.30 by a tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) and travelled about 90 minutes to eventually arrive at our destination, an ethnic village that manages a huge coffee and tea plantation for Dao Coffee. We were pleased to put our feet on the ground, as tuk-tuk travel is certainly not the most comfortable form of transport but it’s used very widely in Laos. We walked through the village and saw the different processes that the coffee has to receive before going to the factory and finally our tables. We found the information very interesting.
We continued along our way, being helped by our local guide ‘Wong’, who was a charming young man of 28, married and with one child. We crossed a stream with the help of stepping-stones and were soon climbing to eventually reach our first waterfall. We passed some amazing limestone and volcanic rock formations – some of which we had to clamber over – this did not please Marilyn too much!
Close to Champi Waterfall Wong stopped and cut two huge jungle leafs that were soon to become our platters or tablecloths for our picnic lunch. We arrived at this stunning waterfall and wandered around admiring the beauty until we found a wooden bench facing the falls. We sat and listened to the relaxing sound of water and the birds singing in the trees. Wong was preparing our picnic lunch on the huge leaf, which he had since taken down to the pool to rinse. Lunch comprised of chicken, pork, boiled eggs, morning-glory, fish, spicy dips and of course, sticky rice but small taster bites were the order of the day. In total, we spent about an hour at these falls, before continuing on.
We then headed off our second waterfall. The walking was getting more challenging and the road ahead looked quite tough, but onwards and upwards we stepped until after about two hours arriving at another spectacular waterfall with an 80 meter drop. 1300 meters above sea level, in dense jungle, our onward journey was getting flatter in parts and we continue through many hectares of coffee plants. The coffee will be picked and eventually transported by motor bike, the only form of transport that is able to travel in this terrain, in sacks to their depot. [This reminded us of our trip to Dalat in the Vietnamese Highlands, when the workers transported 120 Kg. of coffee across rope bridges – open link for our Youtube video].
We used our tuk-tuk to reach the third water fall with an amazing 120 meter drop. Our guide said climbing up there was dangerous. Well for us the whole day had been a bit too much risk taking – bridges and walkways constructed with bits of wood and held together with rope, often with shoddy bits of timber. No safety rails at the sides, so stay in the centre and don’t look down! Of course, none of the above would comply with Western safety guidelines.
We reached our third waterfall after a very bumpy tuk-tuk ride and saw the magnitude of this 120 metre drop falls. It was spectacular!
We returned to our hotel and had a delightful Lao meal overlooking the Mekong and reflecting on our wonderful day, whilst eating our chicken with cashew nuts, steamed, spicy sea bass, morning glory and of course rice. It was delicious and a memorable meal to end a memorable day!