Monday, January 8, 2018

Pak Ou Caves

Attractive and beautiful women do play important roles in promoting their countries to foreign visitors. This was what I could say of Laos. I never knew Lao women would be fair-skinned, thinking that they would be like most brown skin South East Asians.

I quickly recorded the video of those beauties on Lao TV Discovery on my Ranger Portable Media Player when I saw the programme back in 2008. They were visiting some caves which I thought looked mysterious, having not known anything about Loas. Where were those caves in Laos? I have to go there.

The place in the video looked familiar to the pictures of Pak Ou I saw on the web and watched on Youtube. However, they were not exactly the same. The stairs and the river looked the same but the caves looked different. I only realised that they were indeed visiting Pak Ou Caves after coming back from the trip. While re-playing the video on 3rd December 2017, I realised that they were visiting Tam Theung (upper cave) followed by Tam Ting (lower cave). I had been comparing the pictures of Tam Theung in the video with Tam Ting, and since they looked different, concluded that the maidens were not visiting Pak Ou. 

Day 3 (12 November 2017)

I was running out of time to buy gifts for friends. Tomorrow, I would be leaving for the airport at 7:00 a.m. in the morning. The night market did not have many choices of food items that could be given as gifts. I have to go and get some at Morning Market.

I went out at about 6:30 a.m. and planned to be back before 8:00 a.m. I was hoping also to have another taste of the rice porridge I had yesterday, unsure if the road side stall had opened at that early hour.

On the way, I walked past Lao Coffee Shop (N19.88802° E102.13226°) at the oval roundabout at Chao Fa Ngum Road. It had opened for business. I peeked around and saw rice porridge being boiled and ready to be served. I placed the order for the porridge and later, ordered a glass of Lao Coffee. 

After a hearty breakfast, I rushed over to Morning Market. I bought the gifts I wanted and seeing those tempting Banh Cong and curry puff, I bought them for breakfast and lunch. 

I was back at the hotel by 7:40 a.m. and waited at the porch by 7:50 a.m. for my transport. I did not notice the songthaew parked there. A few minutes later, the driver approached me and he confirmed that he came to pick me up.  We left for the travel agency office. There was another passenger waiting there.

I did not see any other passengers but the driver said that there were another two passengers who had not turned up. After waiting for a few minutes, the two missing passengers had still not turned up. Nevertheless, the driver drove the two of us a short distant away, and we sat in the songthaew waiting.

Shortly after, both of us were asked to register our names at a tour agency across the road from where the songthaew was parked. I wondered why. Then, a tuk tuk arrived and all the passengers numbering about 10 people were asked to register their names also.

Just before 8:30 a.m., we were asked to follow a guide from this tour agency to the pier (N19.89420° E102.13631°) for the boat trip to Pak Ou Cave.

One and half-hour later, the boat pulled in to Whisky Village (N20.00325° E102.23063°). We were told that we would be given 15 minutes there.

From Whisky Village, we proceeded to Pak Ou Cave, reaching it at 11:00 a.m. Finally, I stepped foot to the caves where those beautiful Lao maidens went.

We were given 40 minutes to visit Pak Ou Caves.

Now, you might wonder why I did not buy the ticket to Pak Ou from Khammany Hotel, the hostel where I was staying. Actually, I did check out the itineraries offered but the tours to Pak Ou always included a visit to the elephant sanctuary or the weaving village, both of which I were not interested. 

Whisky Village sounded better than Weaving Village. I was not interested in the elephants as it meant getting wet, and a change of clothes.

It was for those reasons that I went on my own to search for the boat to Pak Ou on the second day of my trip to Luang Prabang.

Today would be my final full day in Luang Prabang. I have to maximise my time here. I was still very full from my late lunch but nevertheless, I would be going to the night market for one final time.

At the night market, I decided to get myself a pair of T-shirts as a remembrance of my visit to Luang Prabang. It cost me KIP45,000.

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