Monday, July 8, 2013

Off to authentic adventure: the Kong Lor cave - Chapter three & end

Getting away from Kong Lor: the tuk-tuk adventure
After a great visit of the cave, we got ready to catch the 1 p.m bus.  Did I say bus? I meant tuk-tuk, as only large tuk-tuks could drive us further. The next stop on our itinerary is Takhek, a little town on the bank of the Mekong. At 20 past one, our tuk-tuk arrives, honking. We load our luggage to its roof, waive the friendly family that runs the guesthouse goodbye, and leave. We're on our way to Nahin, the next village, where we should catch the bus to Takhek. After a short drive, the tuk-tuk stops. The heavy morning rains have transformed the track into a mud pool. No car passes through, we're blocked. Tuk-tuk drivers on each side of the mud pool engage discussions to exchange passengers. We hand carry our luggage over the mud, embark in the next tuk-tuk and continue our journey. 1 hour later, we arrive in Nahin. We look for the bus to Takhek. No, answer village people, there's no bus to Takhek. Oh no! How do we get away from here? After a few attempts to talk to local people, we understand that we should catch a tuk-tuk driving to the next village and get into the bus to Takhek there. Good, 5 minutes later, we sit in the third tuk-tuk, driving towards the main road. Another hour later we reach a larger village, at the intersection of the side road 8 and the main road 13. Our hopes to get on a comfortable bus vanish, it is again a tuk-tuk that will bring us to town. Some 2 hours later, we're in Takhek and we're exhausted.

We survived riding almost 5 hours in tuk-tuks. The seats are hard, and with children continuously sitting on our lap or sleeping in our arms, our arms and legs feel like pulp.

Conclusion
If you're planning to visit Kong Lor cave with younger children:
a) rent a 4x4 vehicle (in Vientiane, there's no car rental in Takhek).
b) book a tour with a local travel agency. Agencies or the tourism office in Takhek can organize a tour for you.
c) for budget travelers, take the local means of transportation but be prepared for a long journey. It's cheap, but it's hard.