We took our first night bus from the capital to the small city of Pakse. The bus had a small bed we barely fit on, but that did not prevent me from getting a good night sleep. The only disadvantage is that you miss the scenery, but you do save in quarters cost and time, so we decided to give it a go.
We arrived at the bus station and made our way into town. We decided to walk along the waterfront, guessing we would find accommodation options there (we were wrong). It was still a very nice walk and we got to see the sun come up over the water, which was really beautiful. We stopped for breakfast at a local joint, where Tim ate noodle soup with the locals. The combination of coriander and mysterious meat was too much for me so I passed. We walked a long way without finding many options to sleep in, so eventually I stopped with our packs while Tim went away to find us a hotel. He came back after a while having found a pretty decent and cheap guest house where we could stay. By then it was close to noon, so we decided to walk around and explore the town. There was not really much to do in Pakse, so we instead made inquiries about motorcycle hire and places to go the following day.
The next morning we were up quite early to have a full day on the road. The Bolaven plateau right outside Pakse is a very interesting place. It looks awfully flat from the road, but it is surrounded by rivers, mountains and waterfalls – an absolutely unique geographical composition. We originally wanted to do a big loop and see about 8 different falls, but we soon realized there was nowhere enough sun light in one day to do just that. Besides, the charge entry fees for most of them, and the prices vary and get specially steep during the high season (Dec-Jan). If I were to come back, I would possibly plan on doing half the loop, staying the night, and returning to Pakse while exploring further territories the following day…
Describing waterfalls in hard work – and the pictures barely do them justice. Finding them on the side of the road was not particularly easy either, and we had to drive back and forth a few times until we spotted the tiny sign that pointed us in the right direction. We started with a very busy one, where we were welcomed by Laotian English students eager to have a chat and get us to sign their books.
The second we visited was one of the biggest in the area, and you could only see it from afar. There was a nice restaurant next to the viewing platform where we had lunch, and the students we had met previously were also using the spot to rest. One of them was a pretty girl playing guitar and singing local songs, so it was a very pleasant place to hang out and admire this huge waterfall. We might have spent a while being silly (how unlike us, I know!)
The last one was awesome and different from the stereotypical image that comes to mind when someone says waterfall. The river there is quite wide, and a cave formed behind the water, which makes for a really particular pool. This place was full of locals swimming and having fun, and they were happy to see us there.
That night on the way back I spotted a Malay/Indian place, and we were happy to see it had cheap prices and quite decent food. We were a bit sad to have discovered it on the last night, as the food was quite expensive elsewhere in town, but we already had plans to keep moving towards Si Phan Don (1000 islands). I hope I can one day get back to this are and explore further, as there is much to see…