Wednesday, 15 May 2013

We finally made it to Kong Lor Cave!

So, we awoke major early, had breakfast at the guesthouse and then said goodbye to Dave as we probably wouldn’t see him again. Then we made the 15 min walk through the village down to the river where the cave was. We paid our fees for the boat (maximum of 3 people per boat) and then followed our guide down to the opening of the cave. Because the water was quite low and the rapids quite vicious we could only get the boat from inside the cave. So after walking across a bamboo bridge, of which half was submerged in water, and walking 10mins down to the cave, we had to help push our boat to where it was easier to get in, and trapse through water and rocks to get into the boat. Once in we began our journey through the spooky huge 7.5km long cave. After about 10mins we stopped off at the main part which was illuminated in funky colours like the one in Halong Bay so you could see the stalagmites/stalactites. We got out of the boat and walked through this with our guide, taking some jump photo’s in the process (luckily, we are all obsessed with jump photos), before returning to our boat which was moored up on the other side.

We then continued right to the end of the cave where it opened up into a beautiful mountainous setting where the river continued on to another village. The ride through took us around half an hour and was very spooky and dark. At the end where the cave opened out were some wonderful rapids, which our drivers made us get out the boat for, stand on some very unstable rocks while they pushed the boat up the rocks until it was safe for us to get back on. In the process Devyn stepped into a massive black hole of water and we almost lost her to the depths of David Jones Locker! We were however awarded with the most amazing scenery of limestone crags and bright green forest at the end – Laos is just stunning at every turn and constantly taking us by surprise – we made some photos here and then turned back around for our spooky journey back, which took another half an hour and we actually rode the rapids back woop! I scared the girls deep in the cave, as I was at the back so could creep up without them knowing!

We then moored up once we’d returned and evaluated our trip to the cave – was it worth the horrendous off-the-beaten track journey? We had to say “Yes! Best Day Ever!” Just to make ourselves feel better, though we all agreed that the scenery was probably more worth it than the cave itself, but it was impressive – how can you say a 7.5km underwater cave ISN’T impressive?! We then walked back – taking some jump photos, obviously, with the stunning scenery in the background. Poor Devyn had us amateurs taking her jump photos and we couldn’t get it right so she had to jump a million times before we got an actual jump photo! Crossing the bridge we were suddenly surrounded by a million white butterflies which was absolutely amazing so of course, more photos were taken with the butterflies. We then went for a meal at the restaurant close by and walked back to the guesthouse. By now with the bright sunshine the scenery surrounding us was stunning, it was one of those moments when I say, ‘Girls, stop for a moment, and let’s just appreciate this, take it all in, because it’s a once in a lifetime picture.’

Once back we grabbed our stuff and waited for the tuk tuk to take us back to the other village, we decided to watch The Dictator on the TV to bide the time, expecting to have to cut it short for the tuk tuks arrival...we watched it to the end and the tuk tuk STILL hadn’t arrived! But about 1.45pm, 45mins late, Devyn managed to flag it down, by which point it was already full of people. So we dumped our bags on the roof, the girls went up front with the driver and I situated myself at the back of the tuk tuk, legs hanging over the edge and off we went...picking up more locals and their produce along the way, including a bag of live frogs. By the end we had 18 people and one baby in the back of this tuk tuk, plus bags of frogs, rice and other things and 8 large baskets of mushrooms!

We arrived at Ban Khoum Kham an hour later, all dusty and sweaty, our bags were transferred onto another tuk tuk and we went to get some food – we tried to get a Mango-selling lady to cut us some mango, but we realised why she was so reluctant to cut them – the first one she eventually cut had a maggot in it! Yuck! So we went to the market instead and picked up some Mangos and some freshly made iced sweet plastic bags! It was so good though. We then started our journey back to ThaKhek. Luckily this tuk tuk was going straight back to ThaKhek instead of via Vieng Kham, however, this meant we had a 4hour journey ahead of us, which turned into 5 because of south east asia times! Which meant today, we’d spent 6 HOURS IN A BLOODY TUK TUK!! By the end of it our arses, and our will to live were quickly deteriorating.

We arrived in Tha Khek around 7pm, where we managed to buy
our tickets down to Pakse. After a debate we decided to catch the 10pm bus as the 8pm bus would have got us in at an unholy hour in the morning. So with 2 hrs to kill we thought we’d treat ourselves to somewhere nice for a meal...LP recommendation, Inthira hotel and restaurant, where we had the most amazing meal ever! I had steak, with veg, salad, and BBQ potatoes. We then went back to the bus station where we arrived just as the bus was pulling in, oh yea, and so we dumped our bags down below, headed up to get our seats and settled in for the night. The great thing – we had awesome aircon and managed to get two seats each, the bad thing – the aircon was too full-on eventually, and they insisted on blaring out Laos music until we left. But needless to say, this was probably our best bus journey yet, even though we got hardly any sleep. Seeya in the morning!

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