AsiaLaosPakse

Tagging along with Brent and Rosemary to Pakse

Pakse Travel Blog

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Wat in Pakse

9/17/06

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.

Frogs at the Pakse Market
I hope the safety and maintenance procedures on Lao Air are more up to date!

Upon return, Cindy high fived me - we finally have confirmed seats to Siem Reap on the 22nd. Unlike our flight from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, this one actually had some AC so was relatively comfy.

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).

Lao Village kids singing and dancing

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.

The Courtship Treehouse - where you get to spend the night with your girl/boyfriend after getting parent's permission
..). Once they get the permission of the parents, the couple gets to spend the night in the Courtship Tree House which is up twenty feet by ladder in the middle of the village and none to private. We are still not sure how they ever get the privacy to have so many kids. New!  this should launch in a separate window but if it doesn't hit back after viewing the video. Ethnic Lao Kids Singing and Dancing

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.

Old Villager smoking Bong (tobacco only supposedly...)

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 SE Asia.

Chiles at the Pakse Market
They offered to let us tag along again tomorrow to another waterfall resort, Tad Lo and we would be hard pressed to refuse.

9/18/06

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 Mekong Valley. Along the way we stopped at several Mon-Khmer tribal villages including a Katu weaving village with lots of cute little kids, an Alak village growing coffee and cardamom (worth so much that people steal it from the fields) and a Nge village with even more kids. All of these Southern Laotian ethnic people have similar cultures such as organizing their huts in a circular pattern, an annual water buffalo sacrifice during the full moon where the sacrificers wear masks so they won’t be recognized in the buffalo's next life where he might take revenge.

Ladies squatting in Katu Village
  They are poor but seem genuinely happy and so far untainted by tourism.

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.

Naked Village Boy on an Ancient, Pedal-less and seatless bike having a blast

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 Laos, grabbing leaves and branches and cramming them into his mouth.

Cute villager in Tad Lo
This was one thing on the flats but quite another when he was on a precarious downhill with us feeling like we were going to pitch forward and fall six or eight feet to the ground. Shades of riding horses on Turkey's Patarra Beach with Cindy going ass over teakettle onto the rocks, Ouch!

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.

Rosemary and Brent Blanks on their trusty steed...

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.

Kids in Nge Village
Tomorrow is the cruise and we are all looking very forward to it. Hopefully it will live up to our expectations and the fun we have been having the last few days with the Blanks.

 

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Wat in Pakse
Wat in Pakse
Frogs at the Pakse Market
Frogs at the Pakse Market
Lao Village kids singing and danci…
Lao Village kids singing and danc…
The Courtship Treehouse - where yo…
The Courtship Treehouse - where y…
Old Villager smoking Bong (tobacco…
Old Villager smoking Bong (tobacc…
Chiles at the Pakse Market
Chiles at the Pakse Market
Ladies squatting in Katu Village
Ladies squatting in Katu Village
Naked Village Boy on an Ancient, P…
Naked Village Boy on an Ancient, …
Cute villager in Tad Lo
Cute villager in Tad Lo
Rosemary and Brent Blanks on their…
Rosemary and Brent Blanks on thei…
Kids in Nge Village
Kids in Nge Village
Catfish at Pakse Market
Catfish at Pakse Market
Spice vendor at Pakse Market
Spice vendor at Pakse Market
Tea Plantation outside Pakse
Tea Plantation outside Pakse
Tad Fane Bungalows
Tad Fane Bungalows
Tad Fane Waterfalls
Tad Fane Waterfalls
Katu Village House
Katu Village House
Woman, Chicken and Pig cleaning ri…
Woman, Chicken and Pig cleaning r…
Cute Village girl
Cute Village girl
Katu Village girl
Katu Village girl
Drying chilies in Alak village
Drying chilies in Alak village
Cindy and Larry cruising on Dumbo
Cindy and Larry cruising on Dumbo
Elephant Lunchbreak
Elephant Lunchbreak
Pakse Hotels & Accommodations review
Pakse Hotel A fairly large and centrally located hotel right in the heart of Pakse, it actually was nicer than we thought it would be. They have seve… read entire review
Pakse
photo by: eefab