Freshly confident of my moped driving skills (Ali assures me she felt safe) we headed to the area that draws people to Pakse. The Bolaven Plateau is a vast area in the south west of Laos, littered with plantations, forests, plains and unspoilt beuaty. Those with more time on their hands can make the most of it by touring for multiple days, staying in local homestays. We only had one day to spare, so this is just a taste of what you can find in this neck of the woods.
Lets start with coffee. his is big coffee country….really big coffee country. From huge manufacturing plants to small farming communities, its impossible to ignore. Brilliant for coffee aficionados. Shame Ali is more of tea addict and I don’t really drink either. But when in Rome and all that jazz (or Paksong to be precise). So thats how we found ourselves sat on mushroom shaped chairs, chatting to some Germans, drinking rather strong coffee, served by the Belgian plantation owner. Very nice it was too.
But we didn’t come here for coffee…we came for the waterfalls. You see the plateau is famous for its various falls, each quite different from the next. Thankfully it was rainy season as many of them are known to dry up periodically. Thundering walls of water at Tad Yuang, wide curtains plunging in to the lagoon at Tad Champi and the towering cascades at Tad Fane that disappear in to a cauldron of thick jungle.
Along the way we toured a farming cooperative, watching them producing tea and coffee from the latest harvest.We picked up some fresh avocados from the many roadside vendors, smiles and sign language making up for any language barriers. We were even invited to join in a multicultural BBQ, hosted by contractors at a local hydro dam project. We were plied with kimchee, fresh fruits, beer, sake and barbequed meats as our hosts enquired enthusiastically about our travels and told their own tales. To top it all off, when we arrived back in town we discovered an amazing sweet dish, similar to a roti….yummmm!
This was one of those days that had a little bit of everything thrown in for good measure. We were unsure if we had simply become acclimatised to travelling or if it was something special about Laos. Either way, we were starting to feel a real comfort in day to day life.