Thursday, March 23, 2023

Thakhek Loop

By chance we read about the Thakhek loop while looking into the Kong Lor cave. Popular with tourist who rent a motorbike and do the journey visiting all the sights and ending up again in Thakhek. As we were looking for any excuse to get off the main road (nice stretches but ever so often big construction going on + trucks = dust!) we decided to do half the loop on our way south. 

Yes it was dusty 😷

As we missed out on doing the regular moto maintenance in the capital meant we had to do this at one of the many little roadside mechanics. They did a good job, I think 🤔😂 

Staying at a nice little „resort“ where we had a little cabin with shared bathroom we realized to get any laundry done we will have to stay two nights 😅

So this gave us enough time to explore the area. Obviously we visited the Kong Lor cave, a big cave with subterranean river which you can cross by motorboat. From where we stayed we took a motorboat taxi up river and saw the seasonal gardens on the river beds. During rain season all of this gets swept away and they start fresh again.

Once through Kong Lor is a little village with not much to do so we turned around. You can take the motorbike with you and continue on some unpaved road which will lead back to the main road. Our host discouraged us to do that, but later talking to other travelers we realized we should have done that 😔

Also in the area is the Tham Nam Non cave which hasn’t been fully mapped but what has been seen so far is enormous. Hard to describe and even harder to capture with pictures but the cave was huge! We entered it until we couldn’t see any light from the entrance 👻

Besides that we went bathing in the river, kayaking up a side arm (wasn’t worth it imho) and chilled at the evening bonfire.
Until we realized that we still need the Cambodia visa 😆 In hind sight people told us that we could get it on arrival at the border but we filled in the eVisa application and got it beforehand. So we were up to date with our tasks 😅
From Kong Lor it was 250km to Thakhek with multiple sights but we skipped all the caves and only stopped for the bomb boats and the dead trees.
The bomb boats aren’t made from bombs but actually from auxiliary fuel canisters which were jettisoned during the war. The locals realized these would offer great boats and being made out of aluminum are still in service today.

The other sight is the huge flooded area as a result of a hydro power dam. Millions of trees weren’t cut down first and now stand dead in the water, eerie sight even tough the water level was low.

The area is huge with lots of these entwined channels, check out google maps.

In Thakhek itself we strolled through the local marked, tried to haggle but the locals weren’t budging on the Versace chain I wanted 🤣 Also the day after was a festival or more of a remembrance day of when the French massacred the women and children and threw them down the well 😲

So there was some dancing, marching and flag waving. Besides the flag of Laos 🇱🇦 there is always as well the Soviet communist flag. Also in front of buildings, schools, etc.

As always we asked for a boat going down south, but still no boat 🙃