Now in Laos Day 203: Not Another Buddha Cave!

The day began with me furiously looking for the best deal around for a motorbike rental when there was none to be found. In some act of collusion, they raised the prices to the most unapproachable prices I have ever seen. If I was going to ride along with Andrew I needed a bike a ponied up for the rip-off that it may have been. Turns out while navigating our way out of the city we got separated so I ended up riding by myself out to the Pak Ou Caves. After a last stretch of rocky dirt road, I found Andrew again and so we crossed over by motorized canoe over the river to the caves that are etched into the limestone rock face. Not that I can describe limestone rock any further than I already have but the limestone cliff faces reminded me of a redwood tree sliced down the middle with an orange earthy red mixed with grey that splinters profusely due to the jaggedness of the rock. The Pak Ou Caves were a joke in my personal opinion. I have seen far too many Buddha caves to gain whatever appreciation that they are supposed to entail. It is supposed to be a religious sight with much history especially for the nearby village but now it is a pure tourist stunt. The cave is packed with Buddha statues large and small, fake gold and deteriorated. We made a quick tour of it before readying ourselves to spend some while time at the waterfall. I honestly didn’t see the genuine purpose for the cave. A man could stuff a bunch of old G.I. Joes or Transformers action figures into his basement and have the same appeal of a tourist attraction if not more. From what I gathered, the religious significance has been weathered to nonexistence. The 60 km journey to Kuang Si Waterfall once again got us separated but eventually against the many odds we ran into each other once again at the area’s sun bear sanctuary. I like how closely I can be to the animals in Asian zoos for better or for worse. The lead up to the grand finale of the falls had many layered chilled pools for swimming along with their own low hanging falls. The heat of the day made the moment that much better when able to plunge into the tingly icy gem-like colored waters. Beyond being a great place to relax, picnic, cool down, and be in nature despite the bunches of tourists crowding the space, the most worthwhile sight and experience is the sight of the Kuang Si Falls themselves. From high above, the same clear gemstone colored water cascaded over the utmost rim before spreading its wings into many other falls. Over the many years of rushing and grinding itself over the rocks, the water has formed mossy cave-like features with milky white blankets being draped over the rock. Being in a peaceful mood thanks most kindly to the cool water and the pleasant atmosphere, I sat there at the lonesome picnic table staring up at this natural mecca taking in all the nooks and crannies while watching the power of the water rush over the rock and in a figurative sense wash over me. We climbed to the top over the unsteady steep path and found a calm wide stream that gave the waterfall its power and steam. Sitting near the edge on a firm hanging bent tree I waited and watched with not a hurry letting the melodic sounds of nature immerse themselves within me. After some time, we walked and explored the surrounding areas but found no cool spring or cave as advertised until we ventured out of the park as it was getting late. I got to finally try my first Asian barbecue that usually comes with the meat wedged in between two clamped bamboo wood sticks, which are best when used to hold open a split up chicken. After relaxing back at the hostel, we went to try the phenomenon of essentially all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet. It’s $1.25 for a plate but you can shove more than enough food that you will need on that plate to satisfy your hunger and some. Sadly the food was shit but this was to be expected from cheap food especially when a buffet is involved. My stomach had further turned against me running amok and tried to deprive me of what little sense I had left as a human being. Being hot, sick, and exhausted is never a fun combination to play around with. 


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