Waking up peacefully and enjoying those few moments of wondering where you are, the reality of where I was came crashing down on me and I fought with the mosquito net covering me.
I’m in Thakek. And the guesthouse was bugging me. Literally. Turning over to see hordes of ants scuttling around me and also turning over again to see the squashed 3 cockroaches I killed the night before, I threw off the net and marched into the shower to get rid of all the dried sweat and possibility of having ants in my pants. No one wants to see a fit, sexy lad such as myself start scratching a bum. I only slap others…anyway moving on!
As I said in my previous post, why come to Thakek? Well it was to visit what was reputed to be one of the most creepiest places on Earth (I was probably already there).
Kong Lo Cave.
Off the beaten track, this 7.5km long tail boat ride underground to darkness and the sound of echoing dripping water, your only hope was your flashlight that may illuminate spiders the size of your fist and what Matt feared the most..his reflection in the water.
But we had to get there first in order to experience it!
This truly meant a local bus ride, in order to cut down costs, all the way to the cave itself, which is just about to become a prime tourist spot.
Grabbing a quick breakfast, and leaving our main backpack at the guesthouse as we would be back later that day, took our small rucksacks and boarded the already straining full bus with no where to sit. Alannah and I looked at each in disbelief thinking we would have to stand the whole 2 hour bus journey on a bumpy road until the driver provided us plastic stools to sit in the aisle. It was absolutely hilarious and I do admit I was rather comfy!
We were dropped off in a random town and the locals there couldn’t tell us where we had to grab the next bus as there were no bus stops whatsoever. In the end after an hour of searching, we grabbed a tuk tuk to take us to the nearest town to Kong Lo Cave. This took another 2 hours.
I just read my book the entire way and immersed myself into another reality to take my mind off the bounciness of the road. It was a pretty good afternoon I thought!
Just as we passed the turning to Kong Lo Cave, we saw another tuk tuk abut to go in that turning so both stopped to load us all into the other tuk tuk. By then, we were quite worried that we would be pressed for time and that we would have to return in the dark particularly being dropped off again in that random town hoping another bus would come the other way.
The road from then on was very smooth and gave us ample time to appreciate the stunning scenery along the way as we headed deeper into jungle and woodland.
As we arrived, we were duly informed that Kong Lo Cave would be closing due to diminishing light and we would have to come back first thing the next morning…
…eeeerrrrrrr… We don’t have anything with us and where would we stay?
Luckily, a woman there piped up and said we could do a homestay with one of the families there in the village nearby. We knew there sold be homestays available and we were pretty keen immediately to do this. It would be mega amazing to have an experience in the rural idyllic lifestyle of Lao people.
Slightly disappointed that we couldn’t do the cave experience that day, we walked with Tham, one of then men who volunteered to have us stay with him and his family for several kilometres and reached his treehouse!
I immediately fell in love with this treehouse that had its own kitchen, bedroom, supply room and space underneath for his workshop.
Giving us water, he told us to sit down and brought us a fan trained on us. He said that we were sweaty!
Now, there was a communication barrier between the Lao family and my group and thus only relied on sign language so when he said we were sweaty, he pointed to us and wiped his forehead giving a phew noise and shook his t-shirt before giving us a grin!
He also showed us the shower which I loved. Getting a bucket of water from the vat inside the toilet room and pouring over yourself! I jumped up at the chance and much to the amusement of the villagers there watched me shower myself. Don’t worry, I wasn’t naked!
Chilling out while the rest of his family came in from their duties and introduced themselves. The wife and daughter immediately set about cooking the evening meal and we watched them work.
We talked a little more with the family, still not getting used to the communication barrier and before we knew it, dinner was served that mostly comprised of fish and sticky rice and some more curry stuff. But to start, we were served a bunch of rice with a boiled egg balanced on top, but before we could eat it, members of the family placed 3 white string bracelets on our wrist to bless us good luck. Aww.
After eating my plateful, I put down my plate and fork and the wife immediately filled it back up again and looked at me expectantly. Oh dear. I helped myself to another plateful and this time I was definitely full. She grabbed my plate again and started filling it up again. I stopped her and told her a little but but narrowing my thumb and finger together and rubbed my belly and blew up my mouth to say I’m full. We learned our first proper Lao word ‘imm!’ which stands for full! Our attempts to recite it had the family laughing and I was bemused to whether they might have told us something else?
We then all sat round together and had a great time talking with the family. I helped one of his sons with his English, and answered questions posed by an aunt who asked if Alannah and I were together by pointing at me and her and bringing the two fingers together. I just smiled and opened my mouth to say no politely when a screaming hysterical voice erupted from Alannah’s mouth that gurgled ‘no! No! NO!!!!‘ coupled with a horrified expression. Cheers Alannah! The family was in hysterics at my dumbfounded expression!
The aunt dug out a phrase book that translated English into Lao and we all took turns to describe what we did as a living. I told them I worked in the environment and I looked after water. Now I’m unemployed. (which is probably the first time I would realise then!)
Soon after, it was time for bed. The family brought out a few mattresses, a very large mosquito net and plenty of cushions. And we were to sleep with the elements open to us. As the light was turned off and I was snuggled in between Muriel and Matt, I fell asleep to the sounds of crickets, running river, and other animals noises. I felt really content at that moment and sighed. Travelling is totally worth it. You never know what it will take you.
You definitely wouldn’t know that Alannah would be swearing in the middle of the night trying to find the torch to the bathroom and Matt chuckling mirthly in the darkness…
Definitely try a homestay, it’s not to be missed out.