| Patithin Phetmeuangphuan |
CHAMPASSAK, Laos (Vientiane Times/ANN) – To some, driving a convertible sports car with the roof down is the height of excitement but it does not really compare to what I experienced on a jungle jeep tour provided by Mystic Mountain Homestay and Coffee recently.
It was the last activity of my four-day visit to Pakxong district, Champassak province, but after such an authentic adventure, I did not want to leave.
Pakxong district on the lush Bolaven plateau is well-known as the traditional home of coffee in Laos and we depart from the camp at around 9am by jeep and drive into the nearby villages.
My friend and I sit in the back wearing hats to protect us from the sun, and masks to ward off dust along the road.
But we do not really need them because the weather is not that hot and with few vehicles around it’s not so dusty.
Our driver promises to take us to some picturesque waterfalls that are not officially listed as tourist sites, which heightens our curiosity.
I am Lao but most villagers along the road think I am a foreigner so they give me a loud “Hello” as we drive past.
Along the trip into the villages, we see many old jeeps parked in front of homes and some are driven to and from farms.
We then make our way past some large coffee plantations onto the wider expanses of the fertile Bolaven plateau.
Even though we’re now in the sun we don’t feel hot as Pakxong district’s elevation moderates the temperature somewhat. The open spaces of the large fields allow us to take in the fresh air as we speed along compared to the slower pace through the rainforest.
Our jeep heads back into the forest along a narrowing road and I can hear the sound of a waterfall getting closer but cannot see it through the dense foliage. Our four-wheel drive transport fords a shallow river with ease, while the sound of the waterfall gets closer.
I’m impressed as I see the twin waterfalls that cascade down about 30 metres from above.
Our jeep is very strong and has no problem negotiating its way through the forest and finally drops us off and we walk five minutes to a third larger waterfall pouring out onto many rocks.
My friend and I stay there quite a while taking photos and doing a bit of exercise amongst the tranquil surrounds with no other visitors around.
After two hours, another group of 16 people from Germany arrives at our location. They too are staying at Mystic Mountain Homestay and then we all go back to the first waterfall to have lunch.
The foreign visitors tuck into a European and American style lunch while we have some Lao food.
After lunch, the German group visits the Laven ethnic group village while we take a villager’s tractor back to our camp.
On the way, the villager explains the reason for all the old jeeps and tractors in the area. Most people work on farms with bad roads but the jeeps and tractors can go everywhere, which is especially useful in the rainy season.
In the late afternoon, we take a walk into the village and meet two French girls who are lost. They ask where Mystic Mountain Homestay and Coffee is and we oblige with directions.
It’s not surprising they are lost as Mystic Mountain Homestay is very hard to find and asking locals is difficult if you do not speak any English.
Our day ends back at Mystic Mountain Homestay and we have a nice meal with the German group and plenty of conversation about the day’s wonderful experiences.
Next morning, our stay at Mystic Mountain Homestay ends and we return to Pakxong town via jeep with a stop at a Laven ethnic group village for a walk around.
This village is very interesting, especially their house designs with most still in the original style that reflect the rich heritage of their past.
From my time at Mystic Mountain Homestay and Coffee I can say it is one of the best tourism spots in Laos. It’s such a wonderful trip for anyone who loves coffee, travel and adventure in the jungle.