Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Tourists and Good Guests in the Paxse Region

We ended our trip to Paxse just as it began, on an overnight bus. But before Mr. Viseth dropped us off at the bus station we had to check out some of the local attractions – waterfalls, cultural villages, and of course, one more market.
This morning market looked just as hygienic and appealing as the previous Paxse markets we'd encountered
The coffee here was as strong as ever. And when I asked for the breakfast blend, well, you can just imagine the response I got. But, the Lao people are so nice and accommodating; they basically made me a child’s coffee. Or in Argenina, a lagrima - a drop of coffee in a glass of sweetened condensed milk. Now that is something I could get used to (though I am not sure my pants could…).

Amped up from the caffeine we headed for the Tad Lo waterfalls. We hiked around, took the obligatory photos, and then, at 11:30 AM met a large group of Lao tourists who were starting off their day with two giant coolers of Beer Lao. And you know how much Lao people love Beer Lao. So much so that they insisted that we join the fun. As Mr. Viseth waited (thanks Viseth!) Jesse and I quickly succumbed to the peer pressure and shotgunned not one but two Beer Laos (“You from America? You like Beer Lao? Beer Lao number one beer!").

Fueled with both caffeine and alcohol we did some more Lao hiking (thankfully it was nothing like our northern Lao hike). At one point I saw a rickety ladder leading down a really steep slope that led directly to the top of the falls. A quick test of the sturdiness of the first rung assured me it could handle my weight, and so, I headed down. And then, about three quarters of the way down, with my foot rested on the rung below, I transferred my weight, and the rung totally broke. Uh oh. Delicately, (foolishly?) I continued to the bottom, got my photo, and then nimbly climbed back up. On my ascent I didn’t break a single rung. Which was good.
The sturdy bamboo ladder heading down to the rushing falls

The amazing photo I risked life and limb for.
Despite my breaking their ladder, I'd say we were both good tourists and good guests.
Finally, we checked out the cultural village (not really our thing), one more waterfall, and then headed to the local bus station for our overnight journey.
Jesse in a traditional raised Lao house
Sex trafficking is terrible and a growing problem in Lao.
Rights-LINK has a separate project dedicated to preventing this.
The local laws, however, are ludicrously lax. 
The penalty for offenders is payment of one cow, 3 months in jail and $375 USD.
Mr. Viseth poses with a fake elephant at the second waterfall site
This time we were booked on “King of Bus,” so we were pretty excited, but in fact, it was just like our other bus, and not nearly wide enough for two normal sized people. Oh well, at least it had a colorful and cheerful bathroom!
Oh yeah.  King of Bus.  My kind of bus.
Our "room" from the outside of the bus.
The new friends we made waiting for the bus.
Jesse taught them about the game fruit ninja and handed them the iPhone.
On their first try they dominated our high score.  They were ringers!  They all had their own iPhones!
They really enjoyed that.
Jesse cozies up in her bed. 
Little did she know (actually she well knew) that once I got in
she would lose about half the space she is occupying in this photo.
A row of sleeping berths on the King of Bus

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