(read these first: First Day – Pakse to Mr Vieng’s, Second Day – Mr Vieng’s to Tad Lo)
We woke early on the morning of our third day of motorbiking around the Bolaven Plateau. We were having fun and had nowhere else we needed to be, so we decided to continue our adventure and do the “Long Loop”.
We had our longest day yet in font of us: 87km from Tad Lo to Sekong. Now, at 40kph that’s not much over 2 hours of solid driving, but with two young kid, it is all relative! Sekong rests within a province of the same name; one of the smallest and poorest provinces in the country, and also the least densely populated. It’s a very important coffee growing region for Laos and it’s home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, for whom the predominant belief system is not Buddhism, but one of Animism and ancestral worship. It’s a very different world in the villages here, something were soon to discover.
We headed out of Tad Lo making an early start to the day and after a few kilometres turned southwards. It wasn’t long before we were driving past the village of Ban Kok Phoun Tai where we saw a sign by the roadside pointing into the village and advertising Mr Hook’s coffee and homestay. We pulled over, then ummed and ahhed over wether we should stop in or just keep going. It was pretty early in the day, we hadn’t been on the road long and we weren’t jonesing for a java quite yet. Finally I thought “fuck it!”, told Alex we should just go or we’d regret it, and pulled a U-ey. We drove down a red dirt road, were pulled over by a man carrying a baby in a sling, to pay a 5,000kip/person entrance fee to help support village development. Fee paid, he waved us off down the road and into a totally different way of life. If you’re interested in our visit to Ban Kok Phoun Tai, check out this post for the full story.
After a few eye-opening hours with Mr. Hook we were back on our way. We picked up some snacks from a roadside shop then passed a pleasant couple of hours watching the oh so green countryside roll by us while the kilometres sped by under our wheels. We arrived in Sekong late afternoon and found ourselves some beds at the Hongkam Hotel, a rather soulless, yet clean and comfortable concrete box of a place. We found some super cheap street food at a small market/funfair in town then headed back to hit the sack.
It was an early night for all of us. In bed at 8pm, ready to meet dawn when one child or the other would inevitably awake.
General Loop Info:
Cost of semi-automatic motorbikes : 50,000 kip/bike/day
Distance travelled Day 3 – Tad Lo to Sekong : 87km
Hours of rain : 0 (yet again!)
Visit to Ban Kok Phoun Tai : Village admission fess 5,000kip/adult, Mr. Hook’s tour 15,000 kip/adult. Kids were free.
Accommodation : Family room with a/c and private bathroom @ Hongkam Hotel (2 Double Beds): 130,000kip/night
Food: Cheap roadside snacks and street food were on the menu today.
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