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Sunday, November 13, 2011

25 Days of Laos (Part 17)

This is a journal of our 25-day trip around Laos on a rented Honda FTR that we fondly called Mustafa. It starts with a long bus ride from Hanoi to Laos and ends with a longer bus ride back to Hanoi.

Day 22: Hin Boun to Thakaek
The next town that we were going to visit was Thakaek which was around 181 kilometers away from Hin Boun. The journey would've been more eventful were we able to visit the legendary Kong Leng lake which the villagers believe to be sacred. They say that they hear the sound of a gong from the lake every full moon. 

The Lonely Planet describes the lake as crystal clear since the water in it has been filtered through the limestone karsts. The thing is it's hard to get to -- You'd have to get through terrible dirt roads. And, when you get to the lake, you'll have to ask for the villagers' permission to swim in there. Also, you can only swim in the stream near the wooden footbridge and not the lake itself. But, some lucky tourists have made it to this location and it is indeed magical. 

What Stopped Us From Getting To The Lake!
We got to Thakhaek in the afternoon. And, we decided to splurge a bit and stay in the Inthira Hotel where we got a beautiful room with a terrace. What made the room unique was that the toilet and the shower seemed as if they were in two wardrobes separated by a sink. Feeling a bit rich that night, we decided to have their sashimi platter and were sorely disappointed to find out that the serving was small and it was more like a ginger platter than a sashimi platter.

That orange glob in the middle is ginger!

Day 23: Around Thakaek
We visited Tham Pha Pa, a Buddha cave which is 18 kilometers from Thakhaek. Their collection of six-hundred-year-old Buddhas was impressive. And, one of the people guarding the place recited some incantations while tying bracelets on our wrists. I guess this means that we will have double the protection during the remainder of our bike trip. Sad to say, I wasn't able to take any pictures in the cave.

The Cave Guardians' Pet?

The Pool Outside The Cave

After the Buddha Cave, we decided to go to a nearby stream called Tha Falang. It may not be as beautiful as the lake that we missed the day before but it was definitely a magical place. By the stream, you'd see several butterflies flying about, making it seem like a place you'd only hear about in fairy tales. And, the best part about it is that you've got it all to yourself. During our stay there, we only ran into two tourists who jokingly left us to have the place for ourselves.

The Road To Tha Falang

Tha Falang

After a dip, we headed back to our hotel and chilled. After that, we looked for a place to eat. This time, we had dinner by the Mekong River, looking at the bright lights on the Thai border. And, we decided to get a cheaper fare that night -- Some local food from the stores scattered by the river.

Quick Travel Tips:

Khoun Keng Long. It's about 30 kilometers northeast of Thakhaek. These are the directions according to the Lonely Planet: "Head north along Rte 13 and turn right (east) at Km 25 onto a dirt road. After 2 km, turn right (south) again and bump up over hills and through villages for 16 km until your reach Ban Na Kheu. Once you've got approval for swimming, it's another 1 km to the lake."

Tham Pha Pa Cave. We weren't exactly asked for an entrance fee but there was a donation box at the entrance. Tham Pha Pa is arond 18 kilometers away from Thakhaek. 

Tha Falang. It's just a few kilometers away from the Tham Pha Pa Cave.

The Journey Continues:

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