Hiking In Laos On The Bolaven Plateau

I didn’t have to think hard about the title for this blog post. Most of the time I sit for five, ten, sometimes fifteen minutes, trying to come up the best, eye-catching title. I want anyone browsing the web to stop in their tracks and think, “Wow, I’ve GOT to read that!” Even if I turned someone small and everyday, like finding an Indian restaurant in Kuwait, into an adventure into the bowels of the Middle East. It’s all about creativity and perspective.

It wasn’t hard today. Why? Because “Hiking In Laos On The Bolaven Plateau” is just awesome. And it’s what we did. Kind of like “Going To The Moon Tomorrow”. How can you make going to the moon sound even more awesome than it already is?

So, we went hiking in Laos on the Bolaven Plateau.

0

Photo courtesy of Anna.  She let me steal a few of her amazing ones to add to the blog.

After we left the 4,000 islands area (see last post), we drove north to a town called Pakse. Pakse is kind of the hub for the Bolaven plateau; once you head up into the hills, there isn’t a whole lot in terms of facilities. We stopped in Pakse to get lunch and run a few errands. We also found these street snacks, which ended up tasting very strange.  Delicious, but strange. They’re made with coconut flour, so taste tropical, but the inside doesn’t fully cook, so it always has a crunchy outside and jelly interior. The jelly is what gets me. Regardless, we bought a couple and mopped up the grease that dribble down our chins.

map

Pakse is located on the Mekong river, which runs all the way down to Phnom Penh, and out into the Gulf of Thailand. Our trip literally followed the Mekong river all the way north. As we left Pakse, we drove to Tad Lo in the north of the plateau. The average elevation for the Bolaven is at around 4,000 ft—much different than our elevation in Phnom Penh, which is only 39 feet above sea level!
00

Photo courtesy of Anna.

We stayed at Tad Lo Lodge, a beautiful place right next to Tad Lo waterfall.These were our bungalows.
2

We woke up to a breakfast of fresh fruit, omelets, french bread, and coffee. You can see Tad Lo falls in the background. I could have relaxed on that patio for days!

3

The main building of Tad Lo lodge.

4

We started our hike the next morning. Our plan was to hike up the river to Tad Suong, which was reported to be the most beautiful falls of them all. We slathered on our sunscreen, packed our bags, and struck out for adventure.

A cautionary note: We were following a distinct trail for much of the hike. When we weren’t on a trail, we were walking in farmer’s fields. Never, ever go off trail in Laos or Cambodia. The countrysides are still riddled with unexploded ordinances—Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge and Laos from the Vietnam war. We never saw any bombs or problems, but we were warned in every tourist office. Please, if you go, tread wisely!
5

The first set of falls we came to were Tad Hang. We were so excited to get to Tad Suong, we just stopped for a few pictures here then kept going.
6

Tad Hang.

7

Photo courtesy of Anna.

We had to go through two local villages on our hike. The people were so friendly; they always smiled and said hello. When we asked, “Tad Suong?” they smiled and pointed us in the right direction.

8

Trekking through the farm fields of the Bolaven. Sean took this photo as he was walking farther away from us at one point. I am in the front and Anna is in the back.

9

We found coffee plants! Coffee production is a large export on the Bolaven. And of course, I brought a few bags home.

10

We were finally in eyesight of Tad Suong. Isn’t it gorgeous?

11

I found the happiest woman in the world inside this hut. She was roasting and shucking corn, looking out over a gorgeous view of waterfalls and mountains. She seemed so at peace with the world. I would have loved to sat with her for a while.
12

But we had to go on. This was the only real river crossing we had to do, and I left my shoes on to do it. You never know what’s in that muddy water!

13

We finally reached Tad Suong! Our goal was to climb to the top of the falls, but we couldn’t find the trail. We knew the view from the top was going to be wonderful, but we couldn’t figure out how to get there.

14

I stopped for a minute to consider our options, then I decided to push on…

15

When I got bit by a massive spider. Okay, I never saw the spider, but the bite hurt! I thought, in my wise and composed condition, that I only had 24 hours to live. At this point in the hike, I called it quits, and suggested (in more or less words) that we head back to the lodge so someone could look at my bite.

Long story short, the bite was fine. It probably was a spider, but the men at the lodge said I would be fine. And I was. But from now on, I will certainly think twice about climbing through the guts of a rainforest!

16

On our way back, Kampot was overheating, so Anna was a lovely mother and carried him a bit of the way.

17

On our way back to the lodge, on the other side of Tad Hang.

18

When we found an elephant.

19

Amazing.

20

Photo courtesy of Anna.

The lodge we stayed at had two resident elephants. They would hang out in the forest around the lodge near the waterfalls.

21

When we finally made it back to the lodge, we laughed at how dirty we were! Even Kampot’s little paws were a muddy mess. Further, the sole completely came off Anna’s hiking boots. She hiked the whole way back without a sole on one foot!

22

We had such a great time. Sean tried to snap a photo above his head of us relaxing on the balcony at the lodge. I love this photo because you can almost picture yourself there, laughing at our adventures.

23

Time to clean the mud off our legs and our shoes…

There’s one small thing I forgot to mention. Remember how we wanted to get to the top of Tad Suong? Well, there is actually a road to the top. We just wanted to make an adventure out of it. That’s why the turning around part was so easy; we just resolved to take the car to the top once we got back to the lodge.

24

It was only a twenty minute drive from the lodge. What a view!
25

Looking down Tad Suong.

26

I love Laos.

27Photo courtesy of Anna.

Once we got back, Sean and Chino serenaded us with some music. It was a wild day, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Up next: No more spider bites, but many more waterfalls! Stay tuned!

Categories: Laos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: