Bolaven Plateau

Trip Start Jan 24, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Sunday, April 1, 2007

Getting back to Pakse a couple of days early was an absolute godsend,
where, overpowered by the heat and humidity of the four thousand
islands, we spent first a night in a badly ventilated guest house where
the water went off at night. Tired, we decided to splash out and stayed
in a pristine hotel with aircon clean sheets englis language movies adn
room service as well as a roof top restaurant and free breakfast- all
for 9 quid a night! Before coming to Laos i was unaware that it
produced coffee, yet during our time here (thanks to the lovely cafe's
of vientiane and luang prabang) our eyes were opened to a delicious
brew from this country with its origins in southern Laos, and so
without further ado we hired a motorbike and headed up into the hills.

The Bolaven Plateau is an area of raised land with hills about 600m
above sea level and about 60 km from Pakse. Due to the cooler air and
breezes it makes excellent coffee growig land- (with 80% Robusta and
20% Arabica for those, like Lauren, who know what that means) and
supportsa large farming community. Tourism is quite ew to these farmers
and so tough finding coffee plantations isn't difficult, finding a
place to actually taste and see the coffee production is nigh on
impossible- as we were about to find out!

Mopedding is great fun (as long as you get a decent one) so we headed
out to a place called Tad Lo, stopping at a waterfall on teh way which
had this strange tourist village set up for bus tours, with caged
animals and a very very sad looking elephant tied to a tree. The
Waterfall was quite nice but left with more sadness for the elephant
than anything else. They still catch wild elephants for the logging
industry, due to the poor roads and hills the elephants are very well
used. You also get elephants used for tourism and when theyre not
treated well its awful to see them in captivity- especially after the
magnificent wildness of their cousins in Africa. Tad Lo was lovely with
a nice bamboo hut for a room, a fan and a few waterfalls (seems tourism
is based quite heavily around waterfalls!).So much cooler at night
which was bliss. We were there overnight and at tea we met a couple-
trish and shane,canadian and kiwi. Theyd been travelling in South east
asia for 5 months and still had a month in Laos so was excellent to
chat with them. They had probably the funniest story i have ever heard
about getting dinner in Burma and only finding out when they were
having thirds of food that it wasn't a restaurant but the 12th day of a
wake... anyway in the evening we were invited to a local party where
they were i the processof consecrating a new budda statue for a local
Wat. Anyway there were 2 stages with a turnout from the entire local
community, with stalls of food and lots of gambling mats (betting on
dice) and a great game of throw the basin of the beer bottle (which we
almost won!). One stage was for older peoples music the other for the
youngsters, yet both were almost startlingly like a school disco with a
DJ chattering in Lao and us with not a scooby what he wa saying- a fun

Only 1 other incident- our 2nd motorbike accident! This time it was
josh's ego that took the hit headng back at night on a dirt track a bit
too close to the edge couple with a rut and por Lauren was sent flying
through the air and finished about 10 feet from the bike! Amazingly no
damage done apart from a couple of grazes and even the bike was barely
scratched- thankfully it was only a km to home!

Next day was an ace elephant ride on elephants who were treated much
better, so we rocked through the jungle and over rivers for 2 hours
then zoomed off to find a coffee plantation. Following advice we headed
to Paxsong which was supposed to have coffee plantations but after
going through it we were still nonplussed as to these elusive tourist
havens. After asking several people none of which were helpful and one
who just opened here eyes and then went straight back to sleep, we
chance upon a tour guide leaving a place which sold and gave tastings
of their coffee. Made Lauren's day! 2 more stunning waterfalls and then
back to Pakse. We did get a puncture but once again we were watched
over as it happened within 20 yards of a repair shop where it cost 1.50
to replace the inner tube! The last experience of Pakse was another
night in blissful aircon before flying to Siem reap.
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