Sabaidee! Sabaidee! That is hello is Lao. I find myself waving with a friendly “sabaidee” to villagers in the countryside and locals boating along the Mekong River as I make my way to the beautiful 4000 Islands region in southern Laos.
Waterfalls are everywhere. I had my arrival lunch at the majestic Tad Fane waterfall just outside of Pakse. The only noise around me was the crashing water below cascading down the mountain and bursting into a rainbow prism from the mist.
The serenity of the crashing water and plush vegetation is soulful. David had it right when he found this hammock nestled between two coconut trees to relax and enjoy the peacefulness.
I saw at least half a dozen of the most incredible waterfalls in southern Laos and many of them not easily accessible if you really want to get up-close…and I do! The waterfall in this photo is only accessible by a swaying bamboo bridge over a valley of rushing water and only held together by rope made of vines.
The E-To waterfall not far away, was only accessible by 200 steep, uneven and tiny descending stairs. At the bottom, the heart of the jungle brush revealed plunging water from many directions. As I have found along the way in my journey…the treasures that reside on the other side of my nerves about getting there are well worth the leap of faith.
The Pearl of the Mekong is the Pha Pheng waterfall, the largest waterfall in southeast Asia. Water pours in through multiple veins from the Mekong converging to a magnificent crescendo at this point. Knowing our adventurous spirit, my Carpe Diem Travel guide Lom hiked us to the water below where most tourists do not go. We could see the mouth of the falls. The water was so loud we could barely hear each other speak. What a rare treat to witness such an incredible display of Mother Nature.
I am so impressed at the eco-awareness in Laos. Many lodges and hotels are set into the natural setting as opposed to cutting down the natural beauty to make way for tourism.
On the way to breakfast one morning at the Tad-Lo lodge, I stumbled on three Asian elephants roaming freely on the property. These elephants were rescued from the timber labor industry. There are less than 1000 Asian elephants left in the country and there is a big push to save these beautiful animals from extinction. I just stood among them that morning enjoyed their incredible presence. These massive animals are so beautiful.
Eco-tourism should have its eye on Laos. I see recycling efforts everywhere. The streets are clean. The air is clean. The landscape is impeccable. And, the people care.