Whilst embracing my inner Rasta on Don Det, I met a couple ‘Mericans planning a scooter trip around Pakse. The trip sounded joyful…so I agreed to tag along.
Arriving in Pakse we had 2 goals: find scooters and find flip flops (I’d lost mine to the Mekong). The flip flops were a challenge (I do not, in any way, have Asian sized feet), but the scooter search was easy.
We were directed to some French guy at a place called Miss Noy. He was all kinds of helpful, providing us with a map, explaining where we should and shouldn’t go, and claiming he would teach us to ride motorbikes as scooters are so last season. We agreed to start the following morning.
7:55 am, Day 1, we arrived to Miss Noy for our moto lesson. This consisted of French Guy showing us how to change gears and each of us driving once up the road and back. The “lesson” took about 10 minutes…for 3 of us…who had each never ridden a motorbike (safety first, friends).
We left our passports and backpacks with French Guy, signed our life away and off we went (I named my chariot Lafawnda the Honda, in case you hadn’t noticed).
Our trip was…swell (to use a word other than awesome).
We spent a total of 5 days chasing waterfalls (cue TLC song here), dodging baby barnyard animals, and waving to the smiling locals. We also climbed up a Land Before Time-esque waterless waterfall (Little Foot was always my favourite) and hung out with some Asian babies (because we all know they’re the cutest). Oh, and I lost another flip flop to a mud hole (sigh).
Aside from Tad Lo and Paksong, most places we visited were merely villages or farm country. We saw only 6 tourists throughout the entire trip (5 of them being in Tad Lo) and pretty much no one spoke English. We spent a lot of time miming to find food and we shared many a meal with a chicken chillin under the table. It was an experience.
While every day was eventful, Day 3 was probably the most memorable. See below.
We had big plans for Day 3. However, it seemed to take us an average of 3 hours to get out the door in the mornings and we spent far too much time taking selfies at our first stop to make it very far in the itinerary. We were behind schedule and too far from the next town to make it before nightfall. We decided to spend the night at some waterfall that (according to our map) had accommodation options.
The “accommodation options” were really just one option: some huts at the top of the waterfall. If given a choice, I would have never, ever stayed at the place we spent the night as I swore I was in the sequel to The Blair Witch Project/Silence of the Lambs/Insert Horror Movie Title Here That Takes Place At A Waterfall Except There Aren’t Any Because Waterfalls Aren’t Supposed To Be Scary. In theory, the place sounded cute (bamboo hut, waterfall, being one with nature and shit), but in practice I hated my life.
After swerving through muddy roads and dodging many a pothole, we arrived to the huts. Completely abandoned; we were the only ones there. We banged on the gate to be let in by a man I will refer to as The Caretaker. The Caretaker looked a bit like Crazy Eyes from Orange Is The New Black (if she was Laoation, walked with a limp, stood less than 5 feet tall, and spoke no English). He swept out the huts (not a good sign…when was the last time someone stayed here?) and handed us some padlocks.
I’d been in the hut maybe 2 minutes when I spotted a spider the size of my hand (this seems to be a theme in Laos) crawling up the “bathroom” wall. I made my way to the door to escape. The rattle of the handle caused the spider (and me) to scurry, him to some unknown corner and me out of the hut to The Caretaker.
I motioned for The Caretaker to bring his broom. Now, I don’t know if the man was partially blind (there was something up with his eyes) or if he was just messing with me, but he came barreling into the room, banging on the walls, completely missing my goal of killing the spider. At one point he smacked the wall directly beside the Death Creature, sending it jumping towards me (this was horrifying. It landed inches from my toes). I leaped onto the bed (in my muddy flip flops, I might add) and ran from the hut sobbing.
Side Note: I do not usually cry over spiders but this thing was terrifying. As I mentioned in my Fairy Godfather post, Southern Laos has Creatures of Death.
But anyway. There I was, sobbing in the mud with The Caretaker hanging his head out the hut window laughing maniacally (thanks, man). The Caretaker eventually left (he never did kill the spider) and I reluctantly returned to my hut, creating a spider-free zone with the mosquito net. I sat in the net and attempted to pull myself together.
It was dark. I was so nervous I was sweating (for once not due to the heat. Thank you elevation level) and my ears were ringing thanks to the loud, chain-saw-like noises some weird type of insect makes (if you’ve heard this noise before you’ll agree…they sound like the soundtrack to impending doom). My flashlight lasted all of 5 minutes before the battery died (damn you, Cambodian battery life) and I was too scared to venture from the spider-free zone to the light switch. I sat in the dark.
The ‘Mericans suggested heading down the road to find some drinks as a distraction but a quick wander confirmed we were locked in (I’m telling you…Blair Witch Project). We went to bed at an unnaturally early time. It was a restless sleep.
Oh! And I almost forgot! During our moto trip briefing, French Guy had mentioned a waterfall we were not to swim in. Why, you ask? A few days earlier, a fish ate part of a girl’s foot. She had to get stitches. Of course that was this waterfall…
Good times with Lafawnda the Honda.