We headed out early to pick up some breakfast before our big day of activities. I opted for a street seller who made me a lovely peanut butter and banana pancake which was a steal at £1 and she also whipped up a chicken and bacon sandwich for Matthew which he was equally as impressed with.
Our pick up was at 8.30, but things don’t tend to run on time in Laos so we were actually collected around the 8.44 mark, but it was a bit of a blessing in disguise as we had managed to misplace our bag of bottled water that we had picked up when we went for breakfast, so we took a few extra trips up to the village to try and find it. It turned out some of the thoughtful girls we had been sat with in the morning had been picked up already by the same company to go somewhere else, and had sent it with our driver as we had left it in the coffee shop. We were very glad indeed!
We boarded our Tuk tuk to the ‘elephant cave’ which is more the ‘jellyfish alcove’ as the elephant rock formation is a little underwhelming, but it was on the way so it didn’t matter too much. We stopped for a photo and carried on our walk to the tubing caves.
We walked through a local village and I really enjoyed seeing the local villagers going about their business, just doing their normal thing. The houses are quite simple here and there is quite a lot of poverty, but people seem really happy and live in such a beautiful place. They are self sufficient in many ways; locals keep farm animals and grow crops to eat.
I’m seem to be having a ‘gap yar’ esque revelation of how fortunate we are of late- I never fully forget how fortunate we are thanks to the amazing people around me (some of which we will be visiting on our travels) who do so much work for those less fortunate than ourselves. However, I do feel repeatedly moved here that so many people who have so little also want for so little. We do spend so much of our time thinking we need things that we really don’t. Someone said to me that when we get home we will want to sell all of our things and send everything to the poor: I’m not quite at that point yet. Nonetheless, I do have a better perspective on what is necessary than I did before.
We jumped into little rubber rings and donned hard hats and head torches before pulling our way along ropes to reach what looked like a tiny hole in the rock formation. As we got closer it opened out more than we realised and we managed to slide our way in with a little help from one of our guides. The caves quickly became very dark and we pulled ourselves through with the help of our head torches and a network of ropes that were laid out for us. The cave was quite low, maybe just a foot above our heads in some places. We could see lots of interesting rock formations and even encountered some challenging currents that we had to battle through. It was such fun, but I was really glad that we had Ryan, the firefighter, just ahead of us- he rescued me from floating away on more than one occasion and never once laughed at my lack of dexterity. His wife, Katie, is also super athletic and seemed to shimmy around the caves with zero challenge- Katie is just as gracious as her husband though and was kind to me despite the fact that I probably slowed them down somewhat!
We had some time after the caves to swim in the water. It was lovely but also had a strong current so it took some strength to get through the water. We clambered on the rocks as dragonflies danced around us and landed elegantly on our hands- it was just as magical as it sounds.
After an early lunch we took the tuk tuk to a different part of the river and boarded two kayaks- one for each couple. The river was glorious as it had a lovely current which meant that paddling was easy, and the sun warmed our backs as we admired the scenery. The distance we would kayak total was 8km which sounded really far, but we really enjoyed it. We hit lots of little sections of rapids which saw the kayak sloshing about as I squeaked with a mixture of fear of falling in and absolute delight. I love being on the water and the view from the river was reallyawe inspiring.
We stopped off at a river side bar for some refreshments and had lots of time to chat to Katie and Ryan and get to know them better. The bar had a basketball hoop so the boys enjoyed that whilst Katie and I caught some rays. The bar put a sprinkler on top of the basketball hoop, so we danced in the water to cool off.
About an hour later we kayaked the rest of the way home, and we were all really sorry to leave our boats behind when we arrived back. It was a fantastic day- one of my favourites of the trip so far.
We didn’t want the day to be over so the four of us headed out for a walk around the village- we spotted some massive and very threatening black clouds not so far away so we grabbed some drinks and took them back to our little huts. The rain absolutely hammered down. I sat on a little swing watching it- the mountain in front of me completely disappeared as the clouds descended and the rain beat heavily onto the roof of the swing so loudly that I could sing at the top of my lungs and no one could hear me. There’s nothing like an exhilarating storm.
What a wonderful day.