Chasing waterfalls on the Bolaven Plateau

The Pakse loop: A brand new Honda Wave, dorky helmets and mouth caps to protect us from the dusty roads. Let the trip begin! First stop was Tad Pasuam, where there was a nice little waterfall (tad means waterfall) and a small ethnic village. While we were listening to the children singing, a couple of other tourists really wanted to go on the photo with Romain and me. They were locals, but live in the north of Laos and haven’t seen a lot of European white/blonde tourists before 🙂 sure, why not!

The next waterfall was Tad Champee. After 10 kms of dirt road we found it. Since there were no signs and there was no one there to collect some money for the parking, we thought there might be another, better place to see the waterfall but no. Following our GPS towards the river we ended up in the middle of nowhere, probably on someones land, so we decided to go back. After a refreshing swim – with a shirt on to show respect to the Lao culture – we drove the 10 kms back to drive up to our last stop of the day: Tad Lo.

Naughty elephants

We arrived in Tad Lo at 4 pm, just in time to watch the elephants of a nearby resort taking a bath! Walking around a bit we sadly couldn’t find the elephants though. After asking around we found the owner who told us that one of the elephants ‘ran away’ that morning. Never happened before, she was just ready for some adventure I guess! They already spotted her and with the other elephant they were getting her back. “How long is that going to take?” I asked. “That all depends on the pace of the 65-year-old lady,” the owner told us 🙂 Only 10 minutes later we already saw them coming. Gigantic animals, I never saw them from this close. They enjoyed their bath and meal afterwards, which we were allowed to give them. Pretty cool!!

Ethnic customs; a whole different world
One of the recommendations was to visit Captain Hook in the little village Kokphoungtai. So we did. A man with a story, and not just some story. At first he explained all about coffee and caffeine and about how they use different kind of plants, but after about an hour it got really interesting. It was when he started to talk about the traditions of the villages, their way of life and their beliefs. The village has 723 people and exists of about 10 families. In each house they live with approximately  30/40(!) people. Where in most places giving birth is seen as a beautiful thing, not here. Women who give birth have to spend at least 2 weeks in the forest alone with the baby. Another woman visits her regularly to make sure they’ve got enough food. After that period they bring the baby to the shaman of the village who’ll ask if it is a good or a bad baby. A good baby survives and a bad baby.. dies. Of course we asked if there are ever bad babies. According to Captain Hook that never occurred. And if they are disabled? Never happened.. Let’s hope that’s true, but I can hardly believe it since all the marriages are between 11-year-old girls and 50-year-old men, who are often related in one way or another.

The full moon plays an important rol in the culture of the Katou people. It’s only then a child can get a name, that is if the parents had a dream that night. If not, you have to wait till the next full moon. It happened that a kid didn’t have a name for a couple of years. A very disturbing ritual they have during the full moon is kicking a puppy dog to death. To get rid off all the bad spirits. Families even want to sacrifice their own puppy, since they believe it will bring good luck to their home.

With other things he told us like they believe we are looking this way (white) because of the water we drink – we’re all born Asian -, kids start smoking from the age of 2 and people who died during harvest are kept in the coffin in their homes up to 2 months until the harvest is over, you can imagine it was quite the tour we had that day! Very interesting, but a bit disturbing as well…

Waterfalls, waterfalls & more waterfalls
After a quiet night with a little campfire and sleeping in a tiny – and smelly – tent, we started the day of with Tad Faek to then go to the most beautiful part of the loop. And it was! See for yourself 🙂

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