July 30, 2005

back in pakse

we got back to pakse today from tad lo falls. tommorow we're catching a flight to bangkok, thailand. (via vientiane, laos.)

we had a really laid back time at tad lo falls. we stayed at sayse's guesthouse in a huge room that was situated almost right above tad hung falls. (which are a little down river from tad lo falls.) our room was really nice and my only complaint was that the bed was rock hard. we had a small balcony on the back from which we could see the top of the falls. we spent almost an entire day hanging out there and just reading.

we also did a bunch of reading at tim's guesthouse. they had decent food and outdoor seating so we sat around there quite a bit, eating, drinking beer and tea, chatting with people, petting the local cat and dogs, and reading.

tad lo itself is a really small "town." it consists of one dirt road with a small bridge over the river. on the dirt road there are about 5 guesthouses and there's not a whole lot to do... so aside from reading and meeting people we also went for an elephant ride since neither of us had ever done that before. our elephant was a senior citizen at 65 years old, but somehow she still managed to drag us around. the exciting part of the slow elephant ride was when we came out of the forest at a bend in the main road. at this point a local guy on his moto was driving by, he looked at us, waved to us, said hi, and drove right off the edge of the road. luckily he was unhurt.

also, there was some other low key excitement during our stay. it's the start of the rainy season in laos and the first night we got there it rained A LOT. enough rain to flood out the dirt road in a couple places, cause a huge tree to fall over at tim's guesthouse, and force them to close the bridge for auto traffic since one of it's supports got knocked down.

on our last night there we met up with a bunch of other travelers for a lot of drinking and debating about a random different issues. (international aid, third world development, education and industry, physics/mathamatics/computers, etc.)

to get to and from tad lo we took a tour via the sabiday 2 guest house. on the way out to tad lo we got to see a tea plantation and two waterfalls, on the way back we saw a couple more waterfalls. this means that insetead of getting the public bus experience in laos (which i hear is actually pretty good, unlike vietnam) we got the sawngthaew experience (a standard for transport in laos.) basically a sawngthaew is a pickup truck with two benches installed in back and a metal post frame around the back area which you can stretch a tarp over for protection from the rain and sun. a little bumpy, but we did manage to squeeze 12 people into the back today.

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