© 2011 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated Tha Khaek Phu Hin Bun

Laos – Phu Hin Bun NPA Trekking – 17th February

We were picked up at 8.30am or so from our guesthouse and much to our delight there were an extra 4 people booked on the trip and so we received $10 refund each off the original trip price. We were able to take our main bags and leave them at the Tourist Office securely whilst we would b out on the trip, after dropping them off we went on our way to the first stage of the trek.

There were 8 of us in total and we were a good mix of people with 2 cheeky tour guides carrying our food from place to place. We took a Song Thaw for about an hour towards the national park and stopped at a wooden bridge, this presented us with a problem; we couldn’t go any further in the vehicle over the bridge with all the food and people packed inside of it, so we off loaded, carried the food and walked to the village around 1km away. When we got there Mii was waiting with a scooter and took the food from us in preparation for the lunch-time spot.

After a short introduction to the village and our guides we walked for around an hour and a half and landed at our first cave of the tour. It wasn’t so big in size but was good enough to explore with head torches. Onwards from there we continued to walk through forest and farmland and ended at the lunch time spot which was at another cave, here there was also a lagoon going into the cave and so everyone stripped off and went for a swim. Helen wasn’t feeling up to getting into the water and was still surviving off re-hydration drinks. The lunch was served on a long picnic bench and we fought off the flies whilst eating barbecued fish, chicken, sticky rice and vegetables, it was okay but the flies didn’t help! We stopped at this spot for over and hour and then continued to walk to another cave. This cave was very impressive, for 15 minutes we all sat or snoozed letting the lunch settle in the peacefulness of the cave. Dave went off to explore a little and photographed the rest of us snoozing away. The tour-guides then led us through one part of the cave guided by torch-lights and out into another much larger section of the cave. There was water and a sand-bank that led towards a large exit point. At one side of the cave there are steps leading up to a Buddah shrine and fantastic views across the cave to the other-side where we snoozed. We were told that once a year there is a festival that happens in this cave and around 3000 people go there to celebrate for 3 days, as always in Laos style, we could only imagine what this would be like.

After leaving the cave we walked another 5 km to a Stupa and then a further 1km to the village where we were staying that night. The village farmed tobacco and we were surprised at the presentation of the village homes in comparison to those we had seen and stayed at in Cambodia. There are around 90 people living in this village with mostly young children under the age of 11. When we asked where all the older children were the response was that in the dry season they go to the town or city to work and send the money back to their family, coming back in the wet season to farm. The children were good fun to photograph but we got the impression they’re used to westerners coming into their village as they showed off, grabbed at the cameras and were quite cheeky. Still it’s all good for the purpose of photographing.

Our accommodation comprised of an eco-style hut with great views from the village of the surrounding mountains and we enjoyed chatting on the balcony of the hut whilst the sun went down. The bed’s were made for us with mosquito nets and bed covers provided. We will say one thing though; always carry a sleeping bag liner or inner sheet as they don’t clean their bed linen very well and we noticed a few bugs crawling around!

We played Putong with the locals (boules) and managed to beat the French couple from our group, one of whom plays it every summer with his brother!! Not bad! The locals cooked us dinner and we all ate together along with them on the balcony of the guesthouse. Later that evening we participated in a traditional Laos Bacai ceremony, this involved the group sitting around a circular table with a candle and flower arrangement in the middle. For each person there was a portion of sticky rice and chocolate bar that we would accept as a gift.  The head of the village came to each of us one by one accompanied by his two deputy leaders, he prayed for us, spoke of good things to come and all of us were predicted we would ‘live long liiiife’. He placed a cotton bracelet on our wrist and the gift was in the pal of our hands. Following him his deputy’s did the same so we ended with 3 bracelets each and many many wishes of a long life!

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

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One Comment

  1. Posted 2 Jan ’12 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Very nice picture ! congrats.

    We will going to this province in a couple of days

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