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  • Writer's pictureDonna Kitchen

Bolaven Plateau Loop - Day 2 During a Heatwave.

Today we continue our four day, three night Bolaven Loop motorbike ride.  If you haven’t read the first day blog, I suggest you go read that first, then come back here.

Breakfast View

Waking at Tad Lo Lodge was peaceful with only a few gardeners and staff around and one group of other guests.  In our bungalow we could hear the water flowing through the rapids.

Stunning rapids around Tad Lo

The plan was to have breakfast and get on our way but now that we have the area all to ourselves, as well as the rubbish left behind from yesterday, we couldn’t miss out on the opportunity the have a good look around. 

Not all rubbish burns!

The rapids were in levels therefore as we walked down another dirt path, we would find more rapids and areas set up for picnics.   The local village kids were playing and swimming in the water, this was their playground.   All they needed were some twigs, rocks an old debris and they would entertain themselves for hours.  So simple.

Low water levels

Packing up the motorbikes much later than planned we finally hit the road as we had approximately 90km’s to cover.  This distance would take us around 3 hours riding.   Riding through the villages, waving at kids and yelling ‘hello’ or ‘sabaidee’.  It made me reflect on how waving is the gesture for hello or goodbye wherever you are in the world and whatever age.

The area was significantly more rural now with mainly farming and newly growing cassava crops.  The housing appeared to be more basic and the people dressed in well worn clothes.

On this route suggestions are made for possible stops.  Some are coffee plantations but as we had seen this process a few times previously, we decided to give it a miss.  This section had no waterfalls until the end of the day at our final location.   This made it a long day with only breaks for us to have a drink, stretch our legs and give our sore bums a rub.

Lunch was a welcomed stop in the town of Sekong.  We were pretty desperate for a stop at this point as the day was getting hotter and hotter. Even the breeze that would pass us as we rode, would be hot.  Our lunch stop had menus with photos but the text was in Laotian. 

Google translate fail

No problem, Google Translate will solve this problem.   This was not to be so.  We had a choice of ‘the jelly line’ or possibly ‘Dr Srew’.  Not knowing how tough ‘Dr Srew’ was, we pointed to a image and hoped for the best.   We made excellent choices in the end!  Entertainment was brought to us via the delivery of an excavator.  Very unusual to say the least.

Finishing lunch the heat became suffocating, I was becoming quite overwhelmed with it even with using our cool towels to cool down.  Feeling as though getting back on the road with a breeze, albeit hot, may give us some relief.    

We now only had 15kms to ride to reach our accommodation for the night.  Finally, we reached the turn off to (guesthouse near Tad Faek).  It was with relief that we drove down the rocky, dirt road and through the gates to be welcomed by the guesthouse owner.  Please, Mr Guesthouse man do you have a air conditioned room available?  Absolutely, for 150,000kip (13AUD) a night.

Tonight's accommodation

First things we did was turn that aircon to artic mode in an attempt to cool down.  Kevin went for the ‘stand under the dribbling cold shower’ method.   Now we were acceptably cooler it was time to check out the area’s waterfalls.

Tad Faek Waterfall

There were two in this area, Tad Faek and Tad Houa Krone.  Tad Faek was our first stop, if only we could find it. Google maps had it marked in totally the wrong spot so it came down to asking locals by showing them the picture of the waterfall.  Pointing from them indicated that we had to return from where we came.  Retracing our steps before long we saw a sign pointing in the direction we needed to go.  A pity they didn’t have a sign post pointing from the direction we came.  Oh well.

Taking us on an unsealed road, Tad Faek appeared and we were the only one here.  Grabbing some semi-cold Heinekens we made a bee-line for the cool water.  Apparently, in this section of the Xe Namnoy River, there would be candirus, small fishes able to go up in the urethra of these males.  It was okay to swim a little bit downstream but not in the dam area.  These must be very obedient fish to only stay in the designated zone.   Kevin wasn’t keen to take part in this holiday adventure therefore only stood knee deep in the water.  Upstream was a lovely waterfall but being the end of the dry season it wasn’t as magnificent as we had hoped for.

Very dry waterfall

We spent longer at Tad Faek and the sun was getting low therefore we returned to the guesthouse.

After cooling ourselves down in the air conditioned room, we settled for a few cold beverages, a home cooked meal and a game of UNO.

Kevin's wishes come true.

The owner had a delivery of coal just on sunset and delivered by the local coal man and his family on an iron buffalo.  Iron buffalos are very common her replacing the family car, the 4WD, the tractor, the plow, the delivery van, the bus.  In asia the engine replaced the buffalo as it’s power source but apart from that, the construction remains the same.  Depending on what the ‘iron Buffalo’ is used for would depend on the size of the engine at the front.

Kevin has a secret wish, actually not so secret wish, to either drive one or ride in one.  Tonight he’s dreams we’re about to come true.  With the owner of the guesthouse, he went and asked for a ride in the back of coal delivery ‘iron buffalo’.  There was, just like a little kid on Christmas Day, Kev was in the back with the family all having a fantastic time.  This family will never know how happy they made this 59 year old man.

We were having enormous fun riding the Bolaven Plateau Loop but we we’re finding it very difficult due to the heat and there was no reprieve in sight.

Temperature at 5:48pm

Tomorrow we would definitely get ahead of the game and be well and truly on the road early.  Early to bed, early to rise.

The adventure continues tomorrow.

Donna & Kevin.

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