All work and no play makes Ashlee a dull girl. Luckily within a few hours drive of Pakse there are many adventures to be had!
About 40km from Pakse you start to climb in altitude as you’ve hit the wonderful plateau which is the home of coffee, waterfalls and cooler weather! Most people rent motorbikes and take between 1-3 days to explore this region, ‘the plateau loop’. Our first stop was for some fresh roasted coffee at a side of the road shack. Here we made friends with a little old lady who showed us her strawberry farm and let us pick and eat fresh strawberries! Oh the perks of having friends who speak the local language. Then seeing as you can never have enough coffee we headed to JHai coffee house for another cup of locally produced goodness.
Finally it was time to swim, so off we headed down a dirt track until we reached Tad Yuang. Wow! I felt like I was in the jungles of Costa Rica again. A massive cascade of water fell into a big swimming hole below which was surrounded by lush jungle. Into the water we went, oh it was refreshing. After enjoying some time in the water I headed up a track and stood on top of the fall, pretty amazing.
Tad Fane was our next stop, this is the highest waterfalls in Laos! Unfortunately you cannot see it up close so we had to settle for a viewpoint at the tad fane resort. My Lao friends decided it was time to take a quick power nap in some shaded hammocks. I, on the other hand, know you don’t need to nap when you have coffee so I went off to find the third cup of the day. Koffie is a Dutch expat who has a coffee plantation in Laos so not only was I treated to high quality coffee I was also privy to some Dutch humour which I have sorely missed.
A three hour local bus ride from Pakse you will find the quaint little village of Tad Lo. Three waterfalls, a handful of guest houses and some temples…I was in for a relaxing time. Jade and I checked into the only bungalows with a river front view, however, it was night time so we would have to take there word for it. Waking up in the morning I was pleasantly surprised to walk onto my balcony and have a waterfall in sight! It was early morning, ladies were washing in the river, kids were swimming around and even piglets were drinking from the river! Tad Lo is tiny so we easily walked around it in half an hour. Two waterfalls are within a 15 minute walk while the furthest one is about 3km away. In the afternoon we ended up swimming in the pools a top Tad Huang with many locals. Elephants also bathe in the stream in the afternoon, however, they appeared to have owners so not too sure what was going on there.
Reunited with my soulpal Darcy I decided to join in on his family’s trip to Don Det, one of the four thousand islands. This place is so lovely I came back a few weeks later! A tiny island which can be walked around within a couple of hours, locals are super laid back and you can score a riverfront bungalow here for $6! We rented bikes and headed to the widest waterfall in South East Asia! It cost 35,000 kip to get into which I felt was a bit of a rip off but the waterfall was cool. We then headed to ‘the beach’ but due to low season the water was very low. We went for lunch on the river bank and a little old Lao lady cooked us everything from scratch! In the afternoons we played volleyball with locals which was super fun. The second time I went back I stayed at Easy Go hostel which was in a really secluded part of the island so at night we could make bonfires and stay up later than the curfew. Made a bunch of friends and we just chilled out, swam, ate and did not much at all – talk about relaxing.