Monday, January 10, 2011

The last Fall

It was a mere 86km back to Pakse from Tad Lo but we had one more waterfall to check out. Tad Pa Suam at 51km mark. Since we had time, we decided to spend the night there and space out the trip. The climb out of Tad Lo was ardrous for 10km as we scaled 400m and there was a particular section that had a 12% gradient.

Despite being rested, it was still hardwork but once we were at the summit, it was a breezy downhill all the way for 40km. Taking our time, we had wonderful opportunities to play with the ever friendly Lao kids during our re-grouping breaks.

We had great fun drafting each other and over the days, we had learned to do this quite effectively. Research have shown harnessing better aerodynamics increases riding efficiency by 20-40%. Foldies, having smaller wheels, can draft tighter than normal 700c road bikes. That is a fact!

The turnoff to Tad Pa Suam came unexpectedly early and seeing huge Thai tourist luxury coaches turn in gave us some clue about the "guesthouse" that awaited us. This being the New Year weekend, the whole of Thailand descended upon this small place. Part of the reason is that this resort is developed by a Thai eco-entrepreneur, Khun Vimon, and he lost his eye sight in the development process due to Malaria. Prices too were in Baht.

After enjoying being in sparsely populated area, we found it difficult to appreciate the crowds. We even had difficulty finding parking place for our bikes as the car park was chockers. Providence once again was shown to us in the form of the last Tree House available for US$38. They were happy for 4 of us to squeeze in and I must admit it was quite a quaint experience to live among the birds, branches and leaves, to the sound of waterfalls once again.

The open air Balinese style bathroom was truly innovative but we had to tolerate thin walls and could hear every snore from our noisy neighbour below. We reciprocated the courtesy. Also, we had an ant infestation and Mike emptied a whole can of insect spray and the chemical warfare killed and discouraged any ants for a ten mile radius!

Lunch and dinner was taken at the only Thai style restaurant which had fabulous and authentic Thai food, not your usual Tom Yums and Red/Green Curries. They had a great 7 course deal for 900B (US$30) for 4 of us and their food was excellent, and so was their warm ambience.

We did a stroll to the waterfalls and soaked ourselves after walking pass the hordes of Thai tourists, many who came as 3 generation families. They seemed to be happy making fires on the rocks and cooking their meals. I even saw a family making fresh Papaya Salad with their own mortar and pestle set!

It was really encouraging to know that this waterfall resort was build to provide employment to the tribal villages that stayed there. We could visit them and see their skill in weaving ethnic traditional cloths that had the prettiest colours for sale.

Tad Pa Suam was certainly worth the visit and sleeping high up in the trees like Tarzan was a real treat! However, it was sad to know this was going to be our last fall for our Bolaven adventure.

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