Bob and Maggie who made up the fifth and sixth white face around the cave had met a millionaire on their travels. He had come into the fortune from an early age and had since spent his many years traveling to pretty much every corner of the globe. Finally accepting that the latter years of his life would require a little more structure he invested in property in five areas of the world that he would most like to live. Tat Lo my next destination is where one of his five houses resides.
The journey down was painful. I had reworked my plan initially to make it slightly more manageable by taking in Tha Kekh. I liked the idea of renting a bicycle and riding down route twelve for the day. The scenery around Kong lor had left me wanting more! Unfortunately the only bikes i could find were broken so instead i was persuaded to take a scooter. Except they didn’t seem to have those either. That left me with a motorbike! After a few circuits of the car park, I decided id give it a miss. I’m not made for two wheeled motorised vehicles no matter how cool i might feel when on them!
Day two i stopped overnight in Pakse before finally making it to Tad Lo on the third day! I had met up with Allison and Mike again on the bus and as we walked the two kilometer dirt road to the accommodation we were immediately struck by the friendliness of the locals. Every house said hello. As a teacher scrawled on the black board her class ran to the window to wave to us. It was wonderful. On arrival i found a great little bamboo hut with hammock overlooking the river. It came at a price though. Two pounds!
Tat Lo was wonderful for two reasons. The first was that you could count the number of other tourists on one hand. This meant that local life was at the forefront. I watched as people fished with spears and nets, others swam and did their washing. I passed a large group of women plucking chickens whilst chatting in a circle. Later the restaurant I was at proclaimed that the chicken I ordered was local and very fresh, I knew he wasn’t kidding! On one day I met Shaun from the States. We went for some food one night. Upon finishing at seven thirty the owner switched off the lights. A bit early I thought until I realised that the whole street was pitch black, the three or so other resteraunts had long gone to sleep. It is a very quiet place.
The second reason is the waterfalls. From my hammock i could see one of them. On the Saturday I visited it and loved the people watching as the village all went to bathe and mess around under the fall. My favorite waterfall was however the actual Tad Lo one some seven hundred odd meters up river. On my way there I twice spotted a snake and even a scorpion! When nearing the waterfall, in one piece, I got to become a kid again using adult sized stepping stones and climbing over boulders and occasionally wadding trough the river. On arrival the falls were really impressive falling straight down a vertical cliff face and ending up in a large pool of water. The swims there were so refreshing although the current had a mind of its own! Luckily there was always a boulder to cling onto!
There was one other reason that Tat Lo is memorable. That was when I told Shawn that I supported Bristol Rovers. He replied “isn’t that the one who did well a couple of years ago?” just as i was about to answer with no that was Bristol City in the Championship play off final, he said “yes in the FA Cup, i was routing for you guys!” oh how that made my day.
The only downside i can possibly think of was the moths. Come evening a plague would swallow up the village, fighting over any light sources. It was quite a sight although when walking through a group of them or even eating as they hover in their hundreds around lights was not the nicest thing in the world.
Tat lo is wonderful. I’ve often found ‘chill out’ places to be disappointing but here is was at its best. The primary reason for it is hardly anyone visits which creates a very local and un-spoilt feel to the place. Next the so called 4000 islands.