The route: Up to a dry waterfall and back
Following an infeasibly large and cheap baguette at larger-than-life Mama Pap’s shack, we got on the bike for a short but sharp ride to a viewpoint overlooking the plains, at the top of a waterfall. The journey confirmed why the water level was, well, a tad low – a Viet-Lao cooperation has built a hydroelectric plant which diverts the entire dry-season flow away from what would have been a spectacular waterfall (and may still be in wet-season). Standing on the edge of the cliff was a slightly unnerving experience, trusting that the engineers did a good job and a wall of water wasn’t about to sweep you into oblivion.
Rolling back down the hill we swum at Tad Lo waterfalls themselves – less impressive, but at least there was water falling (surely a requisite for a waterfall?), before lunching on Mama Pap’s generous baps… Another swim followed, and incredibly we found the appetite to return to the Mama Pap’s to complete a hat trick of visits. Forty thousand kip ($5) for a giant plate of noodles, another of meat, rice and salad, and a beer? It would have been rude not to.