You know a place has gotten into your heart when it’s a multiple-blog post kinda trip. I’ve tried to condense it, but the pictures are just too darn good!
There is so much of the country I want to share with you…
From cows in the countryside…
To dogs behind the wheel. (Photo courtesy of Anna.)
Laos felt very pastoral. When I was in college, I took a classical poetry course, studying poetry from Ancient Greece and Rome. Virgil and Homer created a new literary style called locus amoenus. For some reason, I have never forgotten about.
Locus Amoenus is Latin for “pleasant place”, and is used to describe a remote, pastoral, safe, and comfortable environment, often a place of safety and devoid of people. A refuge. Animals are okay in a locus amoenus. A locus amoenus must have three things: grass, trees, and water.
Laos was my locus amoenus.
After cruising along the countryside, we stopped at a small cafe to get coffee and hot chocolate. It was surprisingly chilly, and we were all getting a bit hungry. Famous for their coffee, I had to order yet another latte in Laos.
(Photo courtesy of Anna.)
After coffee, we hunted high and low for a restaurant to fill our bellies. Sean has something I like to call the “plastic chair policy”. He avoids places with plastic chairs. He does this for hygienic reasons, which isn’t entirely unfounded. A family friend of ours once said, “You think you can eat anything, and you do, until you come within inches of your death and wish you were dead. Then you’re off the street food.” Sean took his words to heart and now looks only for eating establishments with wooden or metal chairs and tables, a signal to him that the place must have a clean kitchen if they’ve taken the effort to set up a solid dining area.
Regardless, he had to throw his plastic chair policy out the window in Paksong, Laos. We were lucky to find the place that we did—Paksong is a quiet, empty town embedded in the hills of the Bolaven.
I have never had a “plastic chair policy”. I should probably create one. But, judging on the meal in the above photo, would you have turned this place down? Me neither.
When I stepped out of the car to snap the vista photo above, it dawned on me that I hadn’t photographed our car yet. We’ve named her Champi, (pronounced chompy) after a waterfall we never saw. Poetic, right?
(Photo courtesy of Anna.)
After our lovely morning of coffee, fried rice, and sightseeing, we stopped at Tad Fane, a famous waterfall in the Bolaven. We stayed in the Tad Fane Lodge—my favorite place in the entire trip. It felt like a fairy land. I could have stayed forever.
(Photo courtesy of Anna.)
Not only did it feel like a fairy land, but it was also inhabited by rather mystical creatures. I swear this guy MUST have been the same spider that bite me. Yeah, right.
Like I said, this lodge was heaven. They had two levels, with the upper level having a fire pit with a roaring fire. As we were hanging on the edge of the valley, the fog was curling up through the trees and mingling with the smoke from the embers. I was in love with the moment.
Then this guy showed up.
And his girlfriend. Our host found them. He just casually picked them off the ground, or from a counter, I’m not quite sure—hopefully not out of my beer—and set them on the table. After meeting each other, they didn’t waste any time getting down to business. Must have been the romantic campfire…
In the morning, when the fog lifted, we had the most amazing breakfast and view yet.
This is Tad Fane.
After we left the lodge, we had another waterfall to head to. I know, I know, enough with the waterfalls. But remember what I said… trees, grass, and water. Locus amoenus.
The next waterfall we visited had the most amazing overlook. Dr. Seuss, anyone?
Sean snapped this photo from above as I fought the raging wind and water blowing me sideways.
I was truly not many feet from the waterfall. These falls were named Tad Yeang, and were some of the more touristy falls we’d been to. They had a nice entrance area, and a restaurant nearby. We weren’t complaining!
At the top of the falls there were a series of bridge to carry you to the other side of the river. We walked upstream quite a ways, looking for the perfect swimming hole.
True love. Between which two couples? You decide… (Photo courtesy of Anna.)
(Photo courtesy of Anna.) Like I said, there was a restaurant near Tad Yeang, serving traditional Laotian food. It was an open-air seating area overlooking the falls, run by a few local girls who were making the food fresh from the ingredients they had brought that day.
(Photo courtesy of Anna.) We had Beer Lao, red sticky rice, mango salad, grilled pork, roasted yams, roasted pumpkin, and bamboo soup. You heard me, bamboo soup. Honestly, it was a feast unlike any other I have ever had. We ate every morsel and loved it. It was really fascinating; a series of flavors I had never tasted before.
Our final stop for the evening was Tad Etu, our final waterfall for our trip.
Sean had to get a little closer, so he went exploring. Anna and I took pictures and stayed dry. Every set of waterfalls we came to ended up being our personal playground. Where else in the world can you get that?
Where is your locus amoenus?