THAKHEK LOOP DAY 3
We woke up early with a small pain in our bones, probably related to the super hard mattress., but there was no time to complain. We wanted to finish the preparation before all the others wake up so tiptoeing we went to the bathroom. The morning was chilly so throwing a bucket of cold water (oh because you thought there was a hot water?) on your body was challenging. We hoped that our screams didn’t wake up the rest of loopers…
Few minutes later, everybody was ready for our breakfast…that consisted again of rice and cabbage (…hmm). Danusia was a bit afraid that it would have impact on her stomach so she didn’t eat much but all the others enjoyed their food 😉
We packed our things and at 8:30 we picked up Bernard and Chantal on the road. The whole team was together so we could move toward Konglor Cave! We left the scooters in the parking and walked the rest of the way. We were super excited, we heard a lot of things about this Cave and we looked forward to seeing it with our own eyes. Basically, the cave is more like 7.5 km river tunnel, running beneath an immense limestone mountain. It’s a part of Phu Hin Bun National Protected Area and can be visited only on the boat. (Fun fact: Aurelie wanted to pass the tunnel with her motorbike to shortcut the wayback to Thakek. When she saw the state of the boats, she was happy to abandon the idea).
We were 8 people so we negotiated the price of 3 boats (the maximum capacity is 3 people per boat + the guide/driver). Already at the entrance, the cave was impressive – almost 100 m high, submerged in the total darkness…We were slightly scared.
We managed to enter the “boats” (more like pirogue style) without actually falling into the water and we started our journey. Literally 2 minutes later, we were totally in the darkness, the only light was given by our head lights and torches provided by guides. It was beautiful, we’ve never seen anything like that before. We were also totally impressed by our guide who managed to manipulate the boat perfectly in those conditions.
The minutes passed and we had our first stop in the heart of the mountain. We strolled next to the stalactites and observed the nature in it’s purest. Afterwards, we had to help our guide to push the boat through very shallow waters (we again thought about the motorcycle at this moment) to be able to continue.
It took us 45 minutes to be able to see the daylight again – we were officially on the other side of the mountain!!!
Obviously there were some Lao street food stands so the team could have a coffee/tea to heat ourselves (the temperature in the cave was low). We wondered what to do the next – Nico and Danusia didn’t have a tight schedule but the rest of the team wanted to be in Thakek the same day. On our side, we wanted to have a one more break on the road and take our time to go back (meaning the following day). However, after checking out our options (there was not much to do in the area, except biking and Nico wasn’t a big fun of bike) we decided to follow the others. We took the boat back, took the team picture in front of the entrance and started the way back to Thakek.
The temperature was slowly declining when we reached the top of the mountains…To the point that everybody was looking for extra clothing to cover ourselves. The winner was definitely Laura:
It was time to say goodbye for the first time: Chantal and Bernard were taking back the same road as previous days (they wanted to avoid the busy highway). We took the last group picture and we continued our loop. Soon we were also abandoned by the others – they were all coming back to the city, whereas we had one extra day to visit the area…but after literally 10 minutes discussion we decided there was no point to do so…
We had enough of scooter and we were a bit disappointed by Cool Springs and the last stop on a way looked literally like Cool Springs. We decided to drive as well to Thakek –> it meant 180 kms to be done in one day. AY AY AY. But we made it!!!! In addition we found: Aurelie, Isabelle, Laura and Quentin on the road and we continued the ride with them.
We reached Wang Wang shop, shortly before 18:00 and to our huge surprise he agreed to give us money back (we initially booked for 4 days). To celebrate, we went to the night market to take last dinner together (without Aurelie unfortunately – she had to leave already) and then the long wait for our midnight bus started…
We were leaving to Vientiane and there was no better transport than a famous hotel bus…we couldn’t wait….
PS. We wanted to thank at this point all our fellow loopers: Isabelle, Aurelie, Laura, Chantal, Bernard & Quentin. Thanks to you, this trip was even better and although we spent only 3 days together we much appreciated all the good laughs, stories, pictures, stops, drinks etc. We were very happy to meet you on our World Tour and we hope to see you somewhere again! Cheers!