The Bolaven Plateau is best known for its coffee plantations, waterfalls and lush green jungles and because I had read about this area being off the beaten path I had been talking about and looking forward to visiting this area for months.
Visiting Mr Vieng’s Coffee at the Katu Homestay.
|Checking out the production process before drinking some STRONG brew.|
|Mutli-colored coffee berries.|
Smelling coffee blossoms and being dwarfed by giant coffee bushes.
|The air was filled with the smell of these fragrant coffee blossoms.|
|The flowers smelled almost jasmine like.|
|If only we had gone on the coffee tour at with Mr Vieng ….then I might know what kind of coffee bush I am looking at.|
Seeing different stages of cassava harvest.
|Most houses on the west side of the plateau had coffee and or cassava drying in the front.|
Finding fun flowers.
|Landscape succulent near Tad Heng|
|I couldn’t reach an actual flower, this is after the petals drop.|
Having fun with Tee having fun.
|These kids didn’t know what to do when Tee jumped aboard.|
|Must stop and look at all tractors and heavy equipment.|
Marveling at Lao packing lists.
|Besides all the boxes up front, this local bus had about a dozen motorbikes and a fridge all loaded on top.|
|Between the smaller villages we’d see these ware laden motorbikes carrying clothes, pots, bowl and floor mats.|
Checking out tiny house designs.
|Beautiful bungalows overlooking Tad Heng. (Yes, I know in this part of this world this is a normal sized house.)|
|A tiny treehouse, even better.|
|We saw some activity in the road ahead of us and when we rolled up this man had just killed this snake that he spotted along the roadway. Dinner time.|
Our not-so-lovely Pakse bound bus driver who after driving in the wrong lane and leaning on the horn for most of the drive, while blasting ear splitting Thai kararoke, dropped us off, not at the bus station, into the arms of his tuk-tuk driving friends. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because after orienting ourselves and with the help of many lottery ticket saleswomen, we were able to walk to our guesthouse.
|The bus driver rushed us off so abruptly that Tee accidentally left his favorite fleece on his seat. This was a double loss because this was also my favorite fleece to borrow from him.|
A mandatory and overly detailed orientation from the motorbike shop owner the night before we left. While at the time the information seemed helpful it proved to decrease spontaneity on the road and increase rushing from spot to spot due to FOMO (fear of missing out), which I am highly susceptible to.
|Our map looked like this, but with even more notes because you wouldn’t want to miss anything.|
Parking attendants at the Paske market physically stopping Tee from locking up our bike, twice. The bike shop owner had made us pretty paranoid about leaving our bike unchained so when the attendants got weird about us locking the bike we left.
|We were not given any warnings about locking our bike on the Tha Khek Loop so we were surprised by all the warnings in this area.|
This loop was much busier and much more developed than we expected. We almost got run off the road by a tour bus after visiting our first waterfall.
|Elephant bathing draws in the crowds in Tad Lo.|
Rocking hopping upriver from Tad Heng to see elephant bath time and falling hard on my tailbone. Major ouch!
|Slippery rocks upstream from Tad Heng.|
Bland, bland food except for the very delicious and extremely high octane coffee from Mr Vieng’s which in turn keep me awake almost all night in Tad Lo.
|Strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk at the bottom. Very tasty and it’ll keep you awake for days.|
The owner of Tayicsua Homestay making classist and/or racist comments to Tee. Luckily, for them, Tee didn’t tell me about this until we were well on our way back to Pakse otherwise I likely would have blown my top if I had known.
|A beautiful waterfall with an ugly owner.|
We had thought we’d explore this area for several days, but as our lowlights starting outweighing our highlights we decided to head back early and though I do think our opinion may be influenced a bit by motorbike fatigue from doing 2 loops back to back, while this is still a lesser visited destination, we consider the Tha Khek Loop much more off the beaten path and felt it provided a better look into village life. For a quieter trip, go at the end of the rainy season for smaller crowds, greener scenery and more robust waterfalls. Also, stay at Katu Homestay, we regretted not staying the night as soon as we arrived in Tad Lo.
Next stop: The 4,000 Islands