A day at the beach

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?

Getting to Tad Sae requires a boat journey

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.

Vivid mode on the camera is great for showing landscape colours as the human eye sees it, but not so good for skin tone :p

 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.

The waterfall is actually a collection of cascading steps and pools

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.

You can zipline between platforms such as this. They promise ‘double safety’.

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.

Tad Sae Waterfall, according to a prominent sign is part of the village conservation area. This might be why we saw so many fish and large trees.

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.

The jungle opened up to reveal some stunning pools
Time for a swim
Mastering the art of walking on water
It is all a bit nice
Cool and comfortable, a rare thing and worthy of a smile

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.

When it all gets too much, you can take a breather

3 thoughts on “A day at the beach

  1. Hi Damo and Mrs Damo,

    Stunning photos and scenery! The locals probably don’t understand why you would want to swim alone and have some quiet time, if it means anything. I read a story written by the English author Annie Hawes titled “Extra Virgin (an olive oil reference by the way)” who lived in a rural, poor and mountainous area of northern Italy and it was a fascinating insight into culture shock. The locals there never seemed to be able to understand the concept of quiet time either. It perhaps is an English thing.

    If a car travels past here, it is an event. Who can it be now?

    Your description of Asian cities was vivid and it really takes a person back to the sights, sounds and smells of a place full of life.

    Stunning. How are those French stick loaves going?




  2. Hi Chris,

    There are at least 3 bakeries within a 5 minute walk that do various types of bread loaves (all sweetened it seems) and french style baguettes (not sweetened thank god. Growing up on a farm, even only 5 minutes from town, it was a minor event when a car came up the drive. Unfortunately, suspicion was also warranted as tools did go missing from the shed on occasion.

    I think the rainy season has finally started, it rained constantly for the last 24 hours. And not a drizzle either, quite a reasonable downpour. Today on the way to work one lane was blocked in several places thanks the landslides and an excavator was rumbling up and down clearing mud, branches and blocked culverts.



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