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Saturday, 01 July 2006

Honeymoon in Laos? - Page 3

Written by Michael McCarthy
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Close your eyes.  When you hear the word ‘honeymoon’, what do you think of?  Long walks along wind swept beaches, candle lit dinners overlooking a majestic blue ocean, some sort of tropical paradise, right?  How about a landlocked communist country in the middle of the monsoon season?  My fiancé was skeptical, but I managed to convince her. Despite (or because of) its geopolitical remoteness, Laos proved to be just as romantic as your standard honeymoon destination, if not more so.



We decided our first visit would be to a Buddhist temple called Wat Sok Pa Luang, where an engaging Laotian woman was said to run a combined sauna and open-air massage hut on the temple’s wooded grounds.  After a quick dip in the pool, we headed off.  It was the perfect thing for a relaxing afternoon. After rinsing off in an enclosed shower, we climbed the stairs and were immediately swept into the owner’s world.  In perfect English, she asked us to take off our shoes and showed us where to change into towels, and then sit and sip some of her homemade herbal tea.  After a cup or two, we were shown to an herbal sauna heated with firewood. Soon the steam took over the room and a healthy sweat ran over our bodies.

When the heat became overpowering, we left the sauna and let the cool air reinvigorate us. The owner smiled in support and we continued this tea-sauna-fresh air combination several more times.  Finally, we were led to the adjacent room and received rigorous one-hour Lao massages, described by my wife in a Zen like state as, “fabulous”.  We finished the afternoon by visiting the temple for a one-hour guided meditation, led by the local monks.  Finally, for dinner, we dined nearby at a local restaurant, eating a Lao specialty, laap, a fish rubbed in a unique blend of spices.

Our Laotian honeymoon continued as we headed south towards a more secluded location to view the famous waterfall called Tat Fan. The waterfall, one of the largest in Laos, was described to us as a must-see, despite its remoteness.  From our hired tuk-tuk, we saw signs for the Tat Fan, so we turned onto the dirt and gravel road that climbed almost entirely uphill.


Since it was monsoon season and rain was coming down in torrents, the road was pocketed with mud puddles.  Just as we approached our resort, both back wheels of the tuk-tuk got stuck in the mud.  The driver, apparently mystified and unsure of what to do, left it to us to track down some staff members from the resort, a passing tea plantation worker and a few wooden blanks.  Collectively, we jacked up the wheels and the driver hit the gas, spinning furiously out of control and heading directly toward the resort.  Luckily, disaster was averted at the last moment as the wheels found solid ground.  My wife looked at me in horror as we entered the resort overlooking the waterfall.

waterfallAnd was the waterfall worth is?  Well, we wouldn’t know; the intense rain made it so foggy that we couldn’t see.  If it were not for the deafening sound of the waterfall, we would have thought the Tat Fan a myth.  Yet, as a sign of our new marriage, we made the best of it by laughing off the experience. We even took pictures of each other posing awestruck in front of a white wall of fog where the waterfall supposedly was.  We spent that night reading to each other, cozied up in our room, with the resort virtually all to ourselves.

We cut our romantic waterfall experience short the next day and traveled to Tat Lo, a nearby village, for our first-ever elephant ride. We were led to a raised platform to mount the animal, and then sat on cushioned saddles as a diminutive Laotian man slowly guided the elephant towards higher ground.  As we ascended the hills in the jungle towards a vista, we could feel the elephant’s sheer power.  Looking down, we could see its feet sink into the ground, making enormous impressions into the mud soaked ground.  My wife even got the opportunity to “drive” the elephant, a chance she hesitantly accepted but eventually came to enjoy, though not completely without anxiety.  The view atop of the elephant was impressive, especially when we made it to the vista and were treated to a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

(Page 3 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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