Pak Ou Caves and Kuang Si Falls ‘tour’

Day 122, Saturday 5 May 2012, Pak Ou caves and Tat Kuang Si falls

I had another crappy nights sleep which is a real pain as the bed is just sooooo comfortable, so I was up early and in to town for breakfast before heading off on my boat tour to Pak Ou Cave a couple of hours up the Mekong River.

“please book now and you will have a full taste of happiness” – loved it!

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There was a bit of faffing around at the jetty before we got going and once we did get going it was a pretty slow ride up stream. Though very low the river is immensely powerful and I would hate to get caught in some of the swirling eddies and strong currents we saw from the boat. There was seven of us on the boat, and apart from two Russian ? women travelling together, no-one said anything to anyone else all the way to the caves.

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We stopped a couple of times on the way, the first time to get some gas and the second at the whisky making village, though there was no whisky making going on at all, nor any signs of it either.

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We were of course able to purchase silk scarves and other souvenirs… the highlight for me was the sign for the WC !

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These fast boats are water taxis to many of the small villages up and down the Mekong. They are quite popular with a certain type of tourist, but apparently a number of people are killed each year in high speed accidents. I only saw one boat go flying past and the driver was wearing a crash helmet – and I don’t mean the flimsy kind used here by motorcycle riders, this guy had a proper helmet on. The western passengers did not.

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It was a further half an hour up river to the caves. The area is incredibly beautiful and I would love to come back after the rainy season when the river is high, apparently it looks a lot clearer then. my photos really do not do it justice, it was close to mid day and the sun was incedibly bright.

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The caves are the home to about 4000 buddha figures, some dating back many many years. The caves were originally used as a place of worship by the animist villagers prior to the introduction of Buddhism about six hundred years ago.

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My favourite.

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There are two caves one just above the normal high water level and another up the hill, not many people took the walk up to the top as it was blisteringly hot again today, though the top cave was not as good as the bottom one.

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I thought it was all pretty cool, and worth the trip.

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While waiting for the boat to head back down river I started up a conversation with Bettina, Austrian working for the European union in Brussels. She has a very interesting job and is well travelled, so we shared travel stories all the way back to LP.
The afternoon session was a visit to Kuang Si falls by van. The falls are about thirty km from LP and extremely popular with tourists and locals – especially on a hot sunny Saturday. I met a couple of Aussies on the bus and we clambered to the top of the falls before heading back down for a swim in the pools below. The water here is an odd turquoise colour and I am assuming this must be due to some mineral or other. It is extremely pretty!

The falls also has a small bear rescue park run by an Australian bear rescue group that have sites around SE Asia. These Asiatic Black bears would likely have been sent to china to farms where they would be used for their bile

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The top.

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The biggest spider I have seen in SE Asia

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The falls

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The pools

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As expected large numbers of young westerners ignored this sign !

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Once back in LP I checked out the guesthouse that Bettina is staying in as I wanted one closer to the centre of town and also one with wifi that worked. The price was good so I have reserved a room at the Khong Savath guesthouse and arranged to move in tomorrow morning.

I had a quiet dinner of spring rolls, chicken and cashews with rice and lovely Lao beer and was in bed watching Arsenal draw with Norwich City by 7.30 !