The Southern Swing Part 2: Highlights and photos

Like I mentioned, much of the pleasure of the bike tour was the journey itself – the fun and freedom of our own transportation and just taking in Laos’ beautiful countryside. There were a lot of other highlights though too. Here’s some of my favorites.

  • The village shortly outside Pakse where every house and shop had a stand in front selling durian and pineapple (often with the owner napping under its shade); the air smelled delicious!

At Tad Lo:

  • Our fun walk through thick bamboo forests and my ineffective anti-spider stick

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Roof of the bamboo tunnel

  • The awesomely decrepid boards on the bridge and the cute kids playing at the waterfall

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FIrst waterfall at Tad Lo

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The view through the bridge. Very reassuring. 😉

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Bridge detail

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Lovely girl at the falls

  • The gorgeous sunset walk at the village outside of the tourist area, and how so many people gathered at the river to bathe, do laundry and just hang out at dusk

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Village house detail

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At the river at dusk

  • The shop girl’s sweet and open smile
  • The empty bomb casing serving as a flower pot outside the place where we ate breakfast

On the way to/at Attapeu:

  • The way the tendrils of thick fog encircled the Bolaven Plateau in the late afternoon
  • The flash of blue from the wings of three beautiful birds flitting across the road in front of us (we’ve been trying to find out what sort of birds they could have been with no success so far…)
  • Chatting with locals and taking in some interesting sights at a market in Sekong

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Vendor hard at work at the market

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Bucket full of frogs – just one of the interesting things on offer at the market

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Her bananas were delicious. 🙂

  • The big group of boisterous kids that ran out of their home to chat with us in Sekong when we stopped to get oriented
  • Racing the impending dark to arrive at Attapeu as the moon was rising; driving around the pitch black side streets in search of a hotel
  • Amazing food at Johnny’s. We had seen this place during our hotel search and it looked cute and welcoming. We grabbed a seat and the owner/waiter came to greet us. We tried to ask about a menu and different dishes, but he just kept saying “fish” and shaking his head “no” when we asked about rice, vegetables, etc. We shrugged and decided to with it. The result: one of the most amazing meals we had in Laos.
    Mysterious things were placed on our table – bowls of water, some sort of sauce, a mountain of different greens topped by a pile of what looked like thin, circular pieces of white plastic, a plate full of condiments like fresh ginger, peanuts, cucumber, onion. And finally, a massive, grilled river fish skewered on bamboo. Fortunately the owner was wonderful and gave us a demo of what to do.
    Wetting the “plastic” (actually rice paper) turned it into a soft wrapping for DIY Lao style burritos! Fill with chunks of delicious white fish meat (I wish I knew what sort of fish it was. Mild and sweet, with a slightly nutty flavor (veering towards hazelnut actually), very tender and moist), any greens and condiments you desire, fold up, dip and enjoy! Absolutely delicious and so much fun!

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Delish fish!

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The finished product

On the way to/on the Plateau

  • The family we saw at the cross roads before heading on the road that would take us to the plateau. A man with a big rifle slung across his chest sandwiched between his wife and young child on a motorbike.
  • The amazing glimpses of acres and acres of jungle we would catch when we rounded certain turns on the road up
  • How I nearly flew off the back of the bike the first time Roman tried to gun the engine up one of the slippery hills. Shortly thereafter we instituted the “I walk/Roman rides uphill” technique.
  • The group of kids smoking cheroots (!!) in the fields of a small farm
  • How relatively nice the homes and villages got as we moved into coffee plantation territory and how nearly every home had a garden – most of them with coffee bushes in them and/or rows of little baby coffee plants in front waiting to be planted. Also funny to see beautiful blue Hydrangea in many of the gardens!
  • The stands of pine trees lining one section of the road – we could almost pretend we were in Switzerland for a bit! 🙂

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