A common question I get asked here is, “Do you eat dog”? This is usually followed by a cheeky smile and an admission that they do, maybe once or twice a year. Indeed, It isn’t unknown for misbehaving dogs, especially those that harass valuable livestock to perhaps find themselves in a pot (although it would be remiss for me not to mention in that particular story, the dogs ended up in a friends pot and the ex-owner did not eat them).
This has been in my mind a lot the past few weeks. You see, like most Asian cities, Luang Prabang is noisy. During the day there is construction noise from nearby building sites, an endless procession of scooters and bikes with missing mufflers, barking dogs, drumbeats from dozens of Buddhist temples and long meandering speeches on oversized PA systems which are the centerpiece of every house party (Lao people like to party, so every few days you see the white tents erected, plastic tables bought in and disturbingly large speakers put in place). At night the construction noise and scooters stop, but the meandering speech has morphed into tragic karaoke set to the backing track from a Casio electric keyboard, the monks are still at the drums and dogs are now barking at moon shadows.
In short, between all this noise, humidity, monster storms every few nights and roosters crowing from 4am, sleep has been somewhat intermittent. Still, it has given me plenty of time to wonder, at 2am as the neighbour’s dog is in the 30th minute of barking at its own tail, why no one has eaten it yet?
Next week, Rach and I will be approaching 3 months in Laos and it seemed a good time to actually go see some of the sights. At 9am it was already hot so we decided to check out Tad Sae waterfall, a popular day trip for locals and falang alike.
At the end of a dusty road we parked the bike and climbed into a very narrow boat for the 5 minute trip down river.
Down shaded paths and across bamboo bridges we found a lovely collection of turquoise pools and cascading waterfalls. There were also a lot of people. Even at 930am the place was beginning to get a little crowded. Undeterred, we set off up a path, the sign promising a ‘secnd (sic) waterfall’.
We followed the river along a narrow, muddy path. Occasionally, you could see a zipline connecting wooden platforms up in the treetops. Below, small fish darted away at our approach.
After passing another bamboo bridge, the path narrowed even further and was occasionally blocked by fallen logs. You could say we were taking a path less traveled, but I won’t reduce myself to such a cliche.
After a few hundred metres the jungle opened up to reveal another set of clear, blue pools. And even better, there was no one else around.
More surprising than the fact that the water was actually cool, maybe even borderline cold was that no one else was here. Indeed, for almost the whole morning only two people wandered past. And just a 15 minute walk away, hundreds of people were bumping against each other. It was all to our benefit, and after an hour of clambering around and swimming in the pools we felt cool, relaxed and recharged. A rare combination.