We hitchhiked to Vientiane from Thakhek with two cars. The first one took us to Paksan from where we waited almost 3 hours at the side of the road before finding a second car.
Despite the length of the trip we really enjoyed this road because for the first time we didn’t travel in the passenger compartment of the car but in the back of the truck and we loved it! We appreciate the landscapes better, we can take more pictures and everyone gives us signs! It makes the locals laugh to see two tourists being carried around in a pickup truck and so we don’t go unnoticed! And then we liked passing cars that didn’t want to stop to pick us up, hihi!
The city of Thakhek
Thakhek is not a big city: There is a square, a few restaurants but it is quickly quiet in the evening, there are not many people. The city itself is not very interesting except that you can see the sunset over the Mekong River…
A WALK IN THE SURROUNDINGS: A BUSY DAY!
Thakhek is best known as the starting point for a 4-day scooter ride. Since we have shortened our stay in Laos, we have chosen not to do this loop but only to spend a day in the surrounding countryside and let ourselves be guided by what we found on the road… we were not disappointed because in the end our program was very busy!
The elephant’s cave
The first cave we see in our path is called the elephant cave. With a name like that, you think it should reflect the size of the cavity but in fact not at all… the cave is not at all deep and you have very quickly made the tour. For a first time, we’re disappointed.
The cave of Xieng Liab
We take our road again and a little further on we stop in front of another cave sign. We are accosted directly by a man who shows us his leaflet and indeed this cave looks pretty good at all and moreover: it is free! In the parking lot we meet a French couple who tell us that the cave is really great but that we’d better take a guide if we don’t dare to venture too far alone. We hesitate a little bit but in the end we think that it may be the only one we will do all day and that indeed all alone we will not necessarily dare to go into the dark cavities. Our dear gentleman who had accosted us at the beginning stayed behind us and that’s good since he knows the cave like the back of his hand, so he will be our guide. The cave is indeed sublime. We crossed it completely, going through little paths that we would never have found alone, walking sometimes in the water and sometimes in the dark, it was really nice, we loved it!
At the exit of the cave, we meet three little chipmunks in the parking lot. They’re so nice and we laugh a little with them before we go back on the road.
Tha Falang Lake
A little further on, we meet again the two Frenchmen who are looking for the same thing as us: the natural swimming pool of Tha Falang. The place is beautiful, the river is calm and surrounded by mountains. We get to know our two Frenchmen, Mélanie and Adrien from the site adrenalinemie.wordpress.com, they are travelling around Asia for 6 months. Men can’t resist taking a dip in fresh water!
Come on, let’s have a drink at home!
After swimming, we continue our journey to a small village a little further back. We leave the scooter in a corner and go for a walk. There is never a tourist who comes here because the village is really far away and the people who do the loop don’t have time to go that far.
We pass in front of a first house with children who play hiding when we look at them, they make us laugh too much!
A little further on, there are people sitting on their terrace who offer us a glass of beer and invite us to join them. So we sit around the table with them, only one person speaks a little bit of English but they must have already started the aperitif a long time ago because they are no longer very clear! It’s really funny, we show them pictures of our old apartment and our families and sing Thai songs with them. After an hour, it starts to go a little peanutty, they insist that we drink our glass of beer every time they keep filling it (beer with ice cubes on top!!! yuck!!) and one of the guys has turned the sound up high in Martin’s ears which is really not pleasant anymore, we prefer to sneak out politely.
A football game
With a little more time ahead of us, we decide to take the road to the Buddha Cave several kilometers away. The road is really not good and we are not moving fast, which also allows us to enjoy the magnificent landscapes once again.
Finally, the time is coming and we think we won’t have time to go to the end of the road, visit the cellar and come back. That’s good, we arrive in a small village where the young people are training for football. Neither one nor the other, Martin got off the scooter and already has the ball between his feet.
After a few passes and a small improvised game, we take the road back to the city. On the way, we come across a magnificent sunset over the rice fields.
The day will finally have been well filled and we are delighted with all the encounters and landscapes we have seen.