THE BOLOVEN PLATEAU

To reach Pakse from Thakhek we made the stopover in two stages. After walking 7km to reach the crossroads, we waited 3 hours before a car took us to Savannakhet where we spent the night. We resume the stop for Pakse the next morning but not without difficulties.

During the car search a grandmother wanted to give us money so that we could take the bus because we had said that we had no money, too kind this lady, we of course politely refused. We finally found a car to take us directly to Pakse. The woman and her son didn’t speak English but the funny thing is that the woman was afraid Martin would kill her! To reassure herself, she even called the police to declare that she had taken strangers on board! 4 hours later we arrived in Pakse without any problem!

In Pakse, there’s not much to do. We take advantage of our afternoon to organize our loop by scooter. To do this, you have the choice between the small loop (3 days) or the large loop (4 or 5 days). We decided not to do the big loop because we thought it wasn’t necessarily worth it and the road conditions didn’t really motivate us.

BOLAVEN LOOP

First day

After leaving our bags at the guest-house and picking up the scooter, we left for our first day to Tad Lo. The road out of the city is not a wild one, but once in the countryside it is more pleasant.

We first go to Tad Pasuam but when we see the entrance fee, we give up and continue to the Champee waterfall. The road to get there is long and not in good condition, on several occasions we wonder if we are on the right path but we will finally arrive without any problems. We were told that the parking was not free but in the end, the place is deserted and we can enjoy it without being disturbed.

We take the road again after a short hour on the spot and we stop in a boui-boui on the roadside to eat the national dish: the noodle soup. There is a lot of wind and on a scooter you start to feel very cold, so you take to the road with an extra thickness on your shoulders.

A little further along the road, we stop at a coffee plantation to discover all the secrets of this harvest. Unfortunately for us, Mr Vieng doesn’t make any visits today because he has too much work with sorting the coffee beans. We will take a little walk around the plantation ourselves to see the different types of coffee and the harvesting process.

On the way to Tad Lo, we see a lot of cassava fields, tractors carrying these roots and villagers cutting them to dry them on a tarpaulin. We arrive in Tad Lo around 4pm and our search for accommodation is complicated since everything is already full. We will finally find ourselves a little behind, in the most expensive guest-house in the village without wifi. As soon as the bags are down, we leave to explore the waterfall. At the top, an elephant is swimming with its mahout trying to balance on its back. We continue to walk a little further up the waterfall, that’s how we’ll find another one. On the edge, the villagers have set up their small garden to grow vegetables.

We will spend the evening with a group of French people we met on the spot and go to bed tired of all the wind we caught on the road.

DAY TWO

After a cool night, we hit the road again. At first, we want to go and see Tad Soung’s waterfall but when we see it from a distance, we notice that there is no water running so we turn around. Too bad considering the wall, it could have been impressive. We then follow a sign indicating a typical village. Once there, we find only two houses without souls living there, we turn around again. We finally take the main road back to Thateng. We are frozen: the sun is not enough to compensate for the cold wind gusts that are blowing down on us. We will make a brief stop at Thateng market to stretch our legs a little and then we will continue our journey directly to Paksong.

As we arrive relatively early, we decide to go immediately to Tad Yuang to get a little ahead of the next day’s program. The waterfall is magnificent, we are under the spell. A small ray of sunshine creates a rainbow at the foot of the waterfalls, the place is calm and very pleasant.

We’ll have the worst night we’ve ever had, we were literally frozen!

DAY THREE

Last day (and fortunately because we are exhausted by the cold), we start the road that takes us back to Pakse. On the way we stop at Tad Fan which will be our last waterfall of this loop. The fall is impressive, you can’t even see the end of it!

A little further on, we will take a detour to stroll around the villages and we will even visit a primary school. Our loop ends there, in the end we will have taken only two full days and a morning but we must admit that with the wind we had, we were in a hurry to get back. The loop of the Bolaven plateau is nice to do, if you like waterfalls. No need to do all of them, some are more expensive than others but they are not necessarily worth it all. As for the landscapes, they are pretty as usual but don’t expect much change, we saw the same thing for 3 days.

As soon as we got back to Pakse, we got our bags back, ate and pointed our thumb up again. We were caught after 7 minutes (a record!) heading towards Champassak, our next stop.