Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bolaven Plateau's Magic - Spellbound in Tad Yuang & E-Tu Waterfalls (Travel Log 112211)

Bolaven Plateau’s elevated terrain is conducive to countless adventures in the heart of South Laos. Its elevation of 1,000 to 1,350 meters contributes to its lush vegetation and a coterie of waterfalls that beckon the nature lover. I was quite happy having seen Tad Fan which other literatures call “Tad Fang” (locals refer to it as “Dong Hua Sao”), Laos’ tallest waterfall, with its water tumbling 120 meters down. From Tad Fane Resort, Tad Fan’s official lookout point, it was possible to hike down the base but it was 6 kilometers of arduous slippery slope. No thanks.

We drove further along Kilometer 39 and turned to another dirt road further east to see Tad Yuang (Gnueang/Yueang). I was partial to this because it provided an appropriate (thus closer) viewpoint where, if you wanted, you could enjoy a dip in the stream while gazing at the seemingly cascading waters above you.


As there was draft from its aqueous stumble, the walk towards the viewpoint was slippery, the miniscule stairs muddy, allowing a single person to pass through. I consciously walked ever so carefully. There was a big group of Lao students (their bus was at the parking area) gallivanting around. I didn’t want to fall, slip off or make a spectacle of myself. My motorcycle driver went with me. The view from below was breath taking. I made a 360 degree turn and every scene was beautiful.

The walk up was a bit strenuous, and a tad slow as I had to occasionally stop and give way to more people making their way down the viewpoint. I saw people laying down huge mats, setting picnic baskets; others were resting. It was past 1 in the afternoon and though I wasn't particularly hungry, I knew I had to “gas up” to replenish energy expenditure. There was one more place we had to see before going back to Pakse.
Entrance fee to Tad Yuang was 5,000 kip per person and 3,000 kip for the motorcycle parking. Tad Yuang is some 800 meters from the main high way – a sign said so!


Before heading back to the highway, we passed by a small restaurant along the road – Ven Restaurant. I ordered food for my driver and me (yes, you have to feed your driver though if budget’s tight, this could be optional). I ordered steamed rice with pork and egg while my driver had some delectable-looking vegetable dish. While waiting for our food, I checked out the restaurant’s displays: grilled banana and camote (sweet potato), air dried cow’s meet hang outside; chips were on a cabinet; bottled drinks were also on display. Over lunch, my driver and I ate in silence. His English was decent, but hardly conversational.

The viewpoint at Tad Yuang

Splendor in the watery stumble. There's draft near the base. Check this couple (above and below) for the scale of the waterfall.

Slippery stairs (above and below)

Ven Restaurant midway between Kilometer 39's Highway and Tad Yuang

Sun dried beef meat.

Kaoman probably?

The last waterfall to see was E-Tu Waterfall, located in Kilometer 35 (Tad Fane’s Km.38 and Tad Yuang is Km.39). I was oblivious to the sun bearing down the concrete highway. With a surrounding rain forest, the climate was mild and the air fresh. I would have expected something craggy and dust-filled in the vicinity of an ancient volcano's crater, but these were intemerate and unaffected lands. If such purity rubs on me, that should make me a better person.


E-Tu Waterfall is located at a resort (E-Tu Waterfall Resort), beside a coffee plantation. Though the stumbling water is decidedly minor compared to Tad Fan and Tad Yuang, I was swept by its moderate countenance. This proves that beauty doesn’t solely rest on sheer size, magnitude or brutal force. There is delight in temperateness.

There was hardly anyone there. But what’s special about E-Tu is that it allows you to check out the base of the falls, then just as easily climb up the top of the falls where the water dives below. Expectedly easier, I made my way to where there was a makeshift bridge that crossed the river stream. From the other side, I could walk on rocks as the waters stumble down below. Amazing! How can atheists not believe in a sentient and powerful being if all this beauty was mere accident of nature?

After being on top, it was time to head down, scaling through 86 steps until I reached a bamboo-constructed viewpoint. It was possible to skip on rocks to get to the base of the falls, but I was happy seeing it from where I stood. After all, it’s easier to appreciate the beauty of a forest from a distance than when you’re in it.

We headed back to our motorcycle. “Back?” my driver asked. I nodded. I had a gentle smile as I climbed behind my driver. I was also conscious and thankful that his scent smelled good – like some heady, fresh-scented Downy laundry conditioner. I remembered the opposite situation once upon a time in Phnom Penh. It wasn't the most pleasant experience.

Pakse was calling. It was time to explore a little bit of the “city” though Mekong lethargy still pervaded everywhere in Pakse. I saw Por (who manages “Imoun Homestay”) talking to a lady with a little girl. I joined them and exchanged pleasantries. I kept saying, “Suay... suay…” to the child. It supposedly meant “beautiful”, while the child’s mother displayed a huge grin. Por informed me that this pretty little girl was my driver’s daughter. She will grow up mild mannered like her father, I was sure.
Meanwhile, I was to join my Dutch friend Teske for a temple visit. Wat Luang is Pakse’s biggest and most important temple in terms of occupants – 136 monks! On the other hand, Wat Tham Fai, located at the city center, enjoys a good sprawl with eye-catching temples, but monks congregate in Wat Luang.
For a change, I would have company. It’d be interesting conversing with a Dutch girl.
This is the Eye in the Sky!

E-Tu Waterfalls from the top.

Tree trunks make for an interesting bridge to get to the other side of the stream where you could hop on rocks to see the drop of the water down below.

Serene water before it stumbles down

This is where the water "falls".

My mild mannered motorcycle driver.

The view of the stream from the top of the waterfalls.

At the other side of the resort, you have to walk through these stairs (86 steps) to get to the base (or near the base) of the falls.

Cottages for rent at the E-Tu Waterfalls Resort for those who prefer to stay for a few days.

I bought a bottle of water at this store (near E-Tu's parking). This very cute little boy came charging by and took my bottle. Haha. They had to restrain him because he wanted my bottle bad - not any other bottle.

A coffee plantation beside E-Tu Waterfall Resort.

Coffee beans

Back at Imoun, I met this shy little girl who turned out to be my driver's daughter!


Twin said...

I love looking at waterfalls from big ones like Niagara or simple ones like Pagsanjan or Tamaraw Falls in Mindoro

eye in the sky said...

Falls are always interesting sights.

Kristina said...

Such cute kids.

eye in the sky said...

I love their wide eyed curiosity. :)