|Nakai, Kong Lor, Laos||Week 7 5th - 6th June 2011|
| Thakhek is a little way off the main road.
Having turned on to the connecting road we encountered the most grand of road widening schemes.
Wider than a soccer field and very flat.
| We stopped at the Thakhek Travel Lodge. Just off the road,
a backpackers' haunt.
Mr Ku hires out motorbikes and has a mudmap of "the loop".
With a copy of the mud map and a few kind words we were on our way.
| The first cave, Xang, is about 800m from the road.
Across a small sandy river.
|A large, but not deep, cave with Buddha images.|
|Our "guide" seemed more interested in showing us
a couple of wasp nests.
He was getting on a bit and shouted at us in French.
We suspect he was drunk. Finally worked out that he thought we should give him a beer.
The road East from Thakek towards Vietnam looked to us like "chocolate
box" scenery. Karst country.
While writing this Ali has just reported on our supplies. You will be pleased to know that we have 5 of the toilet rolls we brought from Brisbane, and another 10 purchased in Malaysia. Too early to worry yet.
|One of those places that photography can't do justice to. At least ours can't.|
|Xien Lia-b cave is water filled. It narrows quite quickly
to the back, but we didn't feel like wading. Our self appointed guide (a
young lad of few words) didn't seem keen to go further.
We got confused and missed Tham Pha Fa cave with a couple of hundred old bronze Buddhas. Since photography isn't allowed there we will never know what we missed.
|More karst (water formed) landscape.
Xien Lia-b cave is a couple of hundred meters behind that building.
| We headed towards Tha Falang. Looking for a cave we never
We found some butterflies (which probably weren't lost).
|We did find a pleasant spot on the river, with water
buffalo and fishermen fighting it out for possession.
We came third.
In retrospect this was the attraction, along with riverside picnic spots.
Next time we'll get the research right.
| Tham AEN cave is quite large and decorated with strings of
flags. The fluorescent lights didn't help.
|The caves we've seen seem to have rivers flowing through them but are otherwise substantially dry. While there are occasional stalactites and other formations associated with wet caves they weren't very active.|
|The karst is seemingly endless as we drive along the valley floor on very good highway.|
|With very little traffic.|
But never boring.
|We stayed the night in Nakai.
The tar seal stopped, just outside town.
Nakai seems to be a dormitory town for the hydro electric scheme.
Restaurant owner wanted to know if we were working for "ABC" (can't quite remember). A good meal.
As far as food goes we've noticed that its become progressively less spicy and hot as we've moved away from Thailand.
We are now reaching for the chilli sauce to put on the fried rice or noodles.
|Finally, a charcoal kiln.
One of many different designs we've seen. This is quite elaborate, and re-usable.
|The lake associated with the hydro scheme didn't have the
vegetation cleared before inundation.
This is dead bamboo. The current and high water marks can be seen.
|The road from Nakai to Laksao became progressively narrower
and potholier and soggier.
This bit is the beginning of a hill to a pass.
|The road heads North, crossing from one karst valley to another.|
|Not sure what was in the puddles. Some of them are quite
Average speed over the 70 km was less than 15 km/hr.
Motorbikes moved a little faster.
Bone jarring and back breaking come to mind.
|Straight through the middle. Just like in Aus.|
|Just another obstacle to slow us down.|
|Towards Laksao, back in the valley bottom, we crossed a
fairly wide river.
The bridge was a shiny new concrete affair. Incongruous given the state of the road.
But just to catch us out the bridge was cambered differently to the road so there was a largish step up onto it.
We've generally been treating transitions from road to bridge and back with respect. This one demanded more than the usual.
|Just pleasant green scenery.|
| Towards Laksao the road improved a bit.
It had once been sealed, but lost its seal.
|At Laksao we were back in karst country. Headed West towards the Mekong.|
|Over a bit of a pass and a glimpse of river and town in the middle of another karst valley.|
|We didn't tire of the scenery.|
|We were however bone weary. We decided we could reach Kong
The limestone has been tilted to different angles around here.
The valley is quite spectacular (to us).
|The restaurant at the end of Kong Lor!
Too tired after a hard drive. We had a meal and saved the cave for the next day.
The red campervan belongs to an English / Ecuador couple with young daughter who have driven from England.
This area has a relaxed appeal.
|Kong Lor Cave, Laos||Week 7 7th June 2011|
|Laurie||Wed, 08 Jun 11 19:55:41 +1000|
|The Karst country scenery sort of reminds me of green Bungle Bungles....|
|Ice||Tue, 12 Jul 11 02:07:38 +1000|
|Superior thiknnig demonstrated above. Thanks!|