who ... moi?

a social butterfly: scared of much, but not of many. never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. not a fan of acronyms, snakes and angelina jolie. a HUGE fan of Fathead.

this blog is black for ENERGY-SAVING reasons.

thanks for your understanding.
if it's too dark, put your glasses on old one.

Monday, December 6, 2010

tat lo

i'd never really been to a "one horse town" until i got to tat lo. it was a necessary stop to break the epic distance between the southern border of laos, and it's centrally located capital, vientiane. it also sounded kind of interesting – set in the middle of the bolaven plateau, there was promise of amazing landscapes,waterfalls and exquisite coffee plantations.

the bus we'd caught from the mainland choked along what the laotians would define as a "road" : a path worn into the bush, which you and i might call "an over-grown trail".

somewhere between bumhole alabama and the middle of nowhere, it came to a stop and we were ordered to disembark.

on the left hand side of the dusty path, a forest sprawled over what must have once been a wooden street stall. to the right, a broken down truck which had been dismembered of all its essential parts, and judging by the coating of rust, this dissection had happened quite some time ago.

behind the motorized ruin, one lonely hotel sat at the foot of a swing bridge. this was as far as the bus could go. we, apparently, had arrived in the bustling metropolis of tat lo.

while i was trying to contain my rage aimed at the driver, who by this stage had unpacked our luggage and in the process, dragged my backpack through a trough of clay, some of the residents of tat lo (of which there must be a total of 23) approached … hands held flat and open.


"pay what?"

"you must pay"

"what must I pay?"

"24,000 kip each"

"three dollars? each? for what?"

"you in tat lo now ... must pay for here"

welcome to the south of laos, people.

there was a whole lot of repetition of the above conversation, while some of the foreigners just stormed off across the rickety bridge in a rage.

hands were flung.

voices were raised.

eyes were rolled.

bargains were made.

in the end, we decided to dump our bags in the lonely hotel, while two of us could suss out the town and find a home for the night. shortly thereafter we realized that we were in the only hotel in town, and that the "toll" had been a tourist scam – leading you to believe that there was an entrance fee to cross the bridge and "enter" tat lo … when in fact, this tiny, dirty road strip with the ghost truck, the wooden shack, hotel california and the swing bridge was, in fact, tat lo.

but the hotel was clean with big rooms and flushing, western toilets. the rooms led onto a communal balcony, which overlooked a beautifully peaceful grassy river bank, with white water splashing from the belly of a loud and jovial waterfall.

it wasn't friendly and our welcome hadn't exactly been warm. but it was quiet, and we had the whole place to ourselves. so we did what any respectable backpackers would do when they're abandoned on the side of a trail that leads to nowhere : ordered several icy cold beer lao's and joined the sun as it wound down its exhaustively hot day.

 click HERE to view full FB album of Tat Lo


1 comment:

  1. how infuriating. I'm glad at least you got a beer in the end.