We had quite an early start for our journey to Tad Lo which is a very small village in the Bolaven Plateau, south east of Savannakhet. The bus left at 7am and was a really rubbish old death trap! The window next to me had a huge crack in it and some shards of glass sticking out the rusty frame. It also went really slow, slightly faster than a milk float! We pootled along for nearly six hours and then were deposited at Pakse's northern bus terminal - we were ordered off by this man we assumed worked for the bus company, as we got off we realised the bus still had lots of passengers aboard and they sailed off to the town centre where we needed to go. We were really cross that we had listened to him and of course he was a tuk tuk driver who wanted lots of money to take us. We needed to get to the southern bus terminal which was quite far away - we payed nearly as much as the whole bus fare had cost for the 6 hour journey to get there. When we arrived we found the next bus to Tad Lo wasn't until 4pm and it was only 1:30pm - we just sat around waiting, and waiting!
The bus journey to Tad Lo was really pretty, its where they grow coffee and the area has many waterfalls. Tad Lo is a few km's from the main road, the bus dropped us off and there was a local with a pick up van who offered to take us down the road into the village. He dropped us off at Tims guesthouse - the rooms were super cheap and basic and we decided to stay for three nights. As it was already getting dark we had some dinner, played some cards and had an early night as we were pretty shattered! At about 3am we were all awoken by this big drum and gong being played - it went on for nearly 45 minutes, there would be two drum beats then a gong over and over again. We asked the owner in the morning what it was and found out that there was a temple directly behind and the monks were celebrating either half or a full moon!
Tat Lo has about three waterfalls, we had read that the most impressive was Tat Suong and was a little bit of a trek out of the village - we started trapsing along in the blazing sun when a tractor and trailer chugged by - we all smiled sweetly at the driver and he let us ride on the back!! As we got near to the waterfall we saw a big cliff with the tiniest piddle of water coming down the right hand side - this was Tat Suong! The river leading up to it had been dammed further upstream - if we knew about that first I don't think we would have bothered!! Still we had a walk to the bottom of the falls and sat on some rocks. We saw illuminous pink dragonflies darting about which were amazing. We had to walk all the way back into the village which took ages and no tractors went by. In the evening we walked to Tad Lo Lodge - a posh restaurant overlooking some other falls, the rooms there were nearly 100 dollars a night but it was hauntingly empty.
The following day we had great pancakes made with local honey - the honey was the best I've ever tasted. We walked to the local falls of Tat Hang and Tat Lo, they were much more impressive than the previous day. Lots of kids were jumping off high rocks into the swirling pool below - it looked pretty dangerous! Kam and Rich went off to swim in a bit more safer place. Me, Eleanor and Carolyn sat with our feet in the water and were entertained by two very funny girls - they wanted us to take their pictures and pulled some very funny poses, one of them kept turning their eyelids inside out errrrrr.
We had a really good chat with the owner of Tims guesthouse (funnily enough his name was not Tim!) he owned a computer training hut over the road and a small library - he was really proud of the village and had said that he didn't want his guesthouse to be in Lonely Planet as he didn't want the stereotypical stoner type traveller to come in and negativly influence the community. He said that a few foreigners had come to the village a few years before and just decided to set up a free english school as there doesn't seem to be any planning permission rules. He said that they didn't follow any sort of curriculum and it was a much more of a hinderance than a help. He was a really lovely man and his guesthouse was great, he loved jazz music and at every meal we had some sort of different jazz!
So Tad Lo was really relaxing (apart from those monks - it actually happened every night we were there!) I think Tims guesthouse made it even better. Next stop Champasak ........................................