Tagging along with Brent and Rosemary to Pakse
Pakse Travel Blog› entry 15 of 34 › view all entries
Well we woke up way to early and arrived at the airport and went through the most laid back security I have seen at an airport in a long while. We asked the girl at the counter to check on the status of our change request but of course, she couldn't and told us to ask at the reservation window.
Cindy asked the girl at reservations who told her the computer was down and to check in Pakse. We were somewhat nervous of loosing our seats, so Cindy walked over to the international terminal to check there while I watched the reservation agent boot her PC Into Windows 98, an officially "End of Life" Microsoft product.
Upon return, Cindy high fived me - we finally have confirmed seats to Siem Reap on the 22nd. Unlike our flight from Luang Prabang to
Brent and Rosemarie graciously offered to let us hitch a ride with them from Pakse to Tad Fane where we were coincidentally both staying. What a treat! No need to figure out logistics of getting there (it’s about two hours out of Pakse) or bargain for an overcrowded and uncomfortable tuk-tuk, rather we go in style in an air conditioned mini-van with their guide Mee (great guy, great English).
En route to the Tad Fane "resort" (and I use that term loosely) we stopped at the Pakse Wat before visiting the immense Pakse Market filled with the usual interesting and photogenic stuff (including a "Rolex" one man wanted to sell Brent and some really weird looking fish).
Then we visited another waterfall and a manufactured ethnic village that a Thai company has built to bring in busloads of Thai tourists, many of whom apparently stop at duty-free at the border and buy cognac to get smashed at the waterfall with their buddies.
There were some cute little kids singing and dancing and an old man playing a bunch of homemade instruments. Also, Mee showed us one of the local huts with small rooms on the corners, each with a small square window and a tree stump outside so that boys can court young girls (actually he said touch but I wasn't going to ask.
We stopped at a tea and coffee plantation run by a Vietnamese family and started to get a tour of how they pick and then fry the tea but it started to rain then totally pour so we hopped back in the van and headed to Tad Fane and power napped on the rock hard bed.
The two waterfalls were very dramatic, plunging 120 meters into the jungle covered gorge. Mist shrouded the falls with the occasional glimpse of a ray of sun shining through. There was a small village close by, but we will have to take Rosemary and Brent's word for it since I managed to snooze till cocktail hour.
Since it was time to freshen up we thought we would take a hot shower, but Tad Fane wasn't cooperating. Forty five minutes and two non-English speaking Lao guys later we had the issue solved - either scald yourself or freeze. If you dialed in the igniter, gas flow, water temperature and water volume just right, you could actually shower...not so easy to do.
Later, we had a very nice dinner with Brent and Rosemarie including a bottle of red wine, always a treat in
After breakfast we piled into the mini-van with Rosemarie and Brent and started the ride to Tad Lo, another waterfall on the Bolaven Plateau which rises 1,500 meters above the
In the Alak village there were of course a bunch of cute kids but one in particular caught our attention. He was probably four or five and trying to push/ride a rusty bike that was twice as big as him and had no pedals - plus he was butt naked.
When we arrived at the Nge tribal village, at first a few brave kids popped out to smile and wave, completely enthralled when we would snap a photo and show them their pictures on the digital display. As soon as Cindy and Rosemary handed out trinkets like balloons, pens, Koala Bear clips and postcards, they turned into the Pied Pipers with the entire kid population of the village following them.
We arrived at the Saise Resort which we liked a lot more than Tad Fane and ended up staying in the "Green House" presidential suite which had a huge room each for Brent and Rosemary and us as well as a big sitting room, all of it overlooking the waterfall.
Had a nice lunch at the Tad Lo Restaurant where somehow they ran out of chicken even though there were chickens running around everywhere.
Following lunch we decided to take an elephant ride which sounds more romantic than it is. The elephant has a two-seater thing on it that makes you feel like at any moment you are going to plummet over the side then be crushed by his enormous feet, and that is when you are on the flats. The driver, a kid no more than fifteen, sat on the elephants neck and gently tried to kick behind its ears in order to guide him. It was completely apparent who was in control and it was not the fifteen year old. Our elephant stopped at just about every bamboo tree in
Fording the river on their backs was also quite entertaining as the water rose higher and higher. We were sure we would either go under or get douched by the elephant's trunk but we safely made it across and into a small village where I am sure the locals thought we looked ridiculous.
Along the way our elephant often started trembling which at first we thought was his nervousness at a steep descent or something similar. This was incorrect as I am sure Rosemary and Brent will attest to, and rather was early indication that he was about to dump a large elephant load - funny sounding on land and even funnier as they plopped into the river.
On the way back our very stubborn elephant neglected to listen to the driver and crammed his trunk into a tree which happened to have a bee hive in it. The bees immediately swarmed and our poor driver got stung five or six times as he furiously swatted at the bees. Two hours on an elephant is more than enough for a lifetime and we were all happy to finally make it back without further incident. Here is some video Elephant Ride at Tad Lo
The four of us went to dinner that evening, which was good although we weren't sure why the beef In Brent's dinner had tiny little bones in it (perhaps the infamous and supposedly delicious "forest rat" that we had heard of). Meanwhile, we were completely unprepared for the torrential downpour that rolled in right around our second Beer Lao. The helpful staff ended up walking us out to a truck under a giant Beer Lao umbrella and drove us back to the "presidential" suite.