After spending a night or two in Pakse and sampling every Indian restaurant the town had to offer, we decided to embark on another motorbike excursion. Pakse is located on the Bolaven Plateau, which is in southern Laos. Place is dope. Dope. After quite a bit of searching for a reputable motorbike vendor, we settled on the only one that didn’t smell like alcohol.
We took one of two routes out of town and flew like bats out of hell down the Pakse-Paksong road, taking pictures of everything that we had fled only days before. Once we passed the “city” limits, the countryside was gorgeous. Nearly every plot of land had a big tarp lain out in front covered in coffee beans. These beans were typically the favored lounge area for the neighborhood dogs. Do you know where your coffee roasts?
We strayed from the path a few times to check out the local villages set-back from the main road and damn was it worth it. If you’ve ever been the face on a fake ID, you know the feeling of novelty. We were greeted with bright eyes and big smiles, as if we were the only outsiders that had ever set foot on the trails-beyond-the-trail.
The Bolaven Plateau loop took us two days to travel – we took the shorter of the two loops, the other being a three day trek. We found ourselves traversing small streams on our automatic motorbikes (hint:Not Recommended), wandering through rows upon rows of rubber trees (think of maple syrup…but glue-like), and praying that we saw Glove resurface after his leaps-of-faith into uncharted waterfalls.
The rubber trees were marvelous. I had never seen anything like it, they seemed to go on for miles. We pulled over to get a closer look, not knowing what the white, glue-like substance coming from them was. We recently learned that it’s rubber! The man working there was nice enough to let us get a closer look, but he language barrier prevented us from learning much.
The first waterfall we stopped at was by far my favorite waterfall we’ve seen. I forget the name at the moment, but I will check in. The rocks were smooth and vast, clearly having lived there for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The boys went on exploring and I sat with my limp knee taking pictures, a common theme.
The dirt roads between each of our destinations were just as beautiful as the waterfalls themselves. Being the tree-hugger that I am, I was in heaven. I took pictures of all the trees we passed, from all angles, of all shapes and sizes. Trees FTW.
Our trek around the plateau embodied the livelihood of the area. We got a glimpse of the coffee- and peanut-roasting that brings backpackers like us to the region, were able to watch the “manufacturing” of the charcoal that powers so many local kitchens, and see some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire world. This is a land untouched by tourism as of yet and we gave it a two thumbs up.
Tad Lo is where we stopped for the night. It’s a quaint little town with not much to offer in terms of activities, but provided an amazing resting spot for us to play Hearts and drink all the beer in the fridge.
We drove through plenty of villages on the final stretch, each one more amazing than the last. Of course, this meant more waterfalls. The last one was the tallest I’ve ever seen! Like most of what I’ve documented, it was even more amazing in person, but I snapped away regardless. If only Glover could jump off THIS one!
For me, the Bolaven Plateau was the highlight of Laos. It offered a completely uncharted view into the lives of the locals and a spectacular glimpse of the country’s true beauty.