Wild kids of Tad Lo

We settled in Tad Lo well and quickly fell in love with it. It was a tiny little village right on a beautiful waterfall. We were staying in a small bungalow made of bamboo, wood and straw and, what’s best, it was almost touching the river. People were very open and friendly. They passed their calm and joyful attitude to travelers and after a while it felt like living in a big multi-culti family. Because in Don Det locals didn’t bother to speak Lao, it was in Tad Lo where we learned the first phrases. We especially like “Saibadee”, which we kept hearing from anyone we met on the street. It means “hello” and it sounds so lovely, that we instantly adopted it as our greeting.

There are three waterfalls around Tad Lo, all of them immense and each of them more beautiful than the other. One had elegant terraces with water flowing down with dignity, other was more sharp and merciless and the third one was a very tall cliff with flat rock right underneath it, from which local kids slided to a pool below. The last one was the furthest away and the most challenging to get to. It was only 1km from where we left our motorbike but it was 1km down a 90 degree hill on DIY ladders. Once we got to the bottom and we thought that we were almost there, the stones that surrounded the bowl of the waterfall (which from the top seemed quite small) turned out to be massive, some impossible to climb on. We ended up circling up, under and around them for half an hour to do 100 meters.

There were countless places to swim, meet the locals or just simply relax in Tad Lo. But it had one thing that most other places did not have. GOOD COFFEE! Run by an Austrian guy (who looked like he’s seen heavens and hells with what he’d run through his body) this little coffee shop sourced its coffee locally, then roasted it and brewed in moka pot. Personally, I’m not a big fan of coffee from a moka, but that coffee was excellent. We felt so inspired by his coffee that we jumped on a motorbike and went to visit nearby coffee plantations. Apparently there are plenty in the area, but it took us a goof 40min drive to get to the right place. Unfortunately even though we were surrounded by coffee trees there was nobody in the area that would show us around. We stopped at a nearby village with the intention to ask about the plantations, but every time we opened our mouth people would hide under their collar. They didn’t speak English and were not adventurous enough to gesticulate. We had to let it go. But the day wasn’t wasted because we stopped at two rural villages and had a peak at how people lived in Laotian countryside. What was interesting to see were the houses, all made of wood, that were built in a circle with animals running around in the middle. As opposed to Cambodian villages, these ones were clean and orderly. We were tempted to take a few photographs, but we felt we would be intruding into their private space, so tranquil and unspoiled by modernity.

One of the best places to meet the locals in Tad Lo was by the river. While women made laundry, men watered veggie patches and kids played on a river bank. Every time we arrived to the river kids surrounded us, watching our moves with curiosity. Once we were cornered by a group of naughty boys who kept messing around until Ale started taking photos of them. Their attention suddenly turned to the camera. They made a pose and ran to see the result on the screen of the camera, every time bursting with laud laughter. It was the best fun ever for them. On another occasion we met a group of girls. I was sitting on a rock writing in my diary while they surrounded me and watched me write. They wanted my pen. It was the only one I had so I couldn’t give it to them. Besides what was that asking strangers for gifts about? Instead I gave each of them a piece of crayon and a sheet of paper and tried to teach them a simple drawing. They were getting into it until Ale started taking photos of us. Then all their attention turned to him and again posing and running to the camera begun. They were a lot of fun to hang out with, all the more that they were wild, curious and easily pleased.


















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