While McBurger was investigating the hospital Agent Getz and I chilled for a bit at Mano Temple hostel in their little tree house loft area. A number of other travelers milling about all from different countries. There were a group of hippied out Brits in the local hammer pants and fanny packs, a red headed boisterous Irish lass and a dude from Portugal. They’re all waiting for a bus to take them to Vang Vieng to go tubing. Something we’ll have to get to in a couple of days.
Funny group of people, we shoot the breeze on traveling and random shit. Like one of their buddies they’ve met along the way named Nathan whom they’ll reconvene with in VV. They didn’t feel his name suited him (Hat sideways, tank top, IE bro looking guy) so they just call him Tyrone. Everyone just calls him Tyrone now and I guess he’s even introducing himself as Tyrone too. “Look at this picture. Total Tyrone, right? That dude cannot be named Nathan. He’s a Tyrone” Apparently Tyrone is a bad ass professional competing break dancer. That’s not something you ever really expect to hear. Unfortunately Tyrone’s break dancing career came to a halt one day when he was rocking it up on a table to Gangnam Style, fell off and broke both his legs.
A few dutch guys come around and they’re talking about going to the waterfall. Drisdelle and I are down but we need some cash. Feeling the time crunch we just walk down the street with our beers and find an ATM. Might be the first time I’ve used an ATM while drinking a beer.
We get back just as the Dutch are finishing up negotiations with a Truck tuk driver. We’re all set! Jump in and here’s the crew: 2 Dutch, 1 Brit, 1 Portuguese and a dude from Detroit. Solid bunch of guys, the ride up to the falls is pretty fun. There were a number of potholes in the road and they are just filled in with bright red loose bricks. Not sure how that’s going to help, other than to point out where the potholes are maybe. “That’ll take care of it”, “Where we gonna put these bricks? This looks good.” Like so many things in SEA it didn’t make a lot of sense and so some funny jokes came of it along the ride.
We get to the falls spot and there’s a little touristy strip leading up to the gate with your typical tourist junk and some food vendors. We stop to get a family dinner before going in. It ended up being some killer pho
The fine young coconuts were driving me crazy (whoo whoo-hoo).
Time to see these falls. We pay 30 kip to get in and the first thing we walk passed is a bear shelter. Apparently they have a little sanctuary for bears here of all different types. We spotted some black bear cubs going mental on a door, maybe trying to get food or get in. Didn’t see any others though.
Up to the falls and they are pretty spectacular. The water brought the temp down a snarch but we were still sweating through our shirts thanks to the relentless humdity. People were swimming and there was an area that you could dip your feet in like a fish spa and the little grubbers will eat the dead skin away.
The falls looked great right away and you see one section and continue up to the next until the fantastic finale of cascading falls at the top. Totally worth the trip up here, too bad MacKay missed it. Here’s the sequence.
And boom! Amazing!
Some of the guys were swimming, some MIA, so Drisdelle and I decided to hike up through the woods beside the falls. There was a sign saying you could get up to the water source. We’ve got time to kill so we’re on the case.
We follow a narrow trail through the jungle. There are weird sounds and weird bugs everywhere. We continue through the path even though it seems to be going perpendicular to the falls. We hear them recede into the distance as we keep trekking. Whatever, we keep going.
Turns out flip flops aren’t the best trekking ware in muddy, half wet jungle terrain and this jaunt in the woods ends up being a serious calf burner. We hear something big in the woods next to us and pause for a quick freak out. Nothing? Hmmmm ok. Trail just keeps going, no idea where. Hop the log? Hop the log
Cross the back woods falls? Cross the backwoods falls
We follow the trail until it comes to a clearing. There are some thatched roof huts, a big pile of gravel and fill, some half made bathrooms and a well beside a corn field. This is interesting, maybe they’re building a new section up here.
We cross the field half expecting some local with a shotgun. Our eyes are on the time as we said we’d meet the guys back at the tuk tuk at 5:15. It looks like there is a beautiful view overlooing the valley but it’s blocked by a tree line. Our new mission is to find an opening for a photo op. Do we have time? Nope, let’s do it.
Not bad, we can do better. A little further? Time check (everyhing turns into a race). A little further
We do it. It’s worth it.
And now it’s time to run all the way back through the freaky trail to get to the tuk tuk in time. Flip flops suck. Humidity sucks worse. And we’re bombing it down the slippery muddy slopes, across the falls, across some more falls, over the log, canned heat all the way. The same fucking crazy sound stalls us in our tracks in the exact same spot as the way up. What the hell is that? We’re looking into the jungle but can’t see anything. It’s on the other side of the path now. Fuck it, let’s get out of here.
We book it back in record time and are sweating our asses off. Back through tourist row and to the parking area where the tuk tuk is. Aaaaaand… there’s no one there. Did they leave already? Nope, there’s our driver guy. Hmmmm, I guess we’re the first ones back? That’s weird.
A moment later and the Portuguese dude is coming down the road. We finally get his name, Pedro. Really nice fella, we start rambling about places. He tells us about an island in Malaysia called Langkawi that he really enjoyed. There’s a sky bridge there looking down over the island, great beaches, parasailing and jetskis. Sounds bad ass. If we have time we’ll try to tack that one onto the trip. He also tells us a place he stayed where the dogs wore pajamas at night and had more comfortable beds than the hostel rooms. I love stupid random stories like that.
It’s 5:30 now and the place is supposed to close. “Then they release all the bears on whoevers left in there” haha.
The rest of the boys come back and the gang is all together again. I pick up some beers for the ride back and some street meat on a skewer. Pork, it’s really good. I share it around.
There’s a great sunset on the go while driving back to town but I’m juggling pork and a beer so my camera skills are nil and I miss the shot. We get stopped by some cows on the road as we pass by all the little villages coming down the hill. Little kids are out playing, people are trying to keep pace with the tuk tuk on their bikes and then the sun is down and we’re left in the glow of the green ground effects from our pimped out truck tuk.
With nothing better to do trucking down the mountain Pedro decides we should play a game. It’s a keep pace clapping on your hands and knees thing, clearly a drinking game in other situations. We each pick an animal and you have to say yours then pass it off by saying another persons. So in the ground effects lights it’s all frog frog beaver beaver, beaver beaver eagle eagle, eagle eagle mosquito moskeeeet, who the fuck picked mosquito? haha. Drisdelle bombs out on a couple of rounds and the mosquito thing is messing with people so the game fizzles into the night as we approach town.
Pedro is talking about the night market as we’re getting out of the tuk tuk so I guess that will be our next stop after a hostel beer. Then maybe the Utopia bar and… bowling alley? Apparently after hours bowling is the last thing open to do here. We’ll see what happens.