With sweat dripping down my back, I look down into the ditch out the back of the guesthouse with complete disappointment. According to the Lonely Planet this ditch should, in fact, be a wonderful refreshing swimming pool. OK, so obviously they worked a little too hard on digging the hole, they had to take a breather for a couple of years before finishing it off. What else does this place have to offer, TV? Yes, but no channels which isn't good as Tom and Nicky want to watch the Man Utd match. Air con? No just fans, which isn't too much of an issue but still a negative point. They did however, have beds and showers. We were torn whether to stay or not. We had walked a fair way out of the central part of the small town of Ba Na Hin to find this oasis but in the end we decided not to stay and find somewhere closer to town. We did have to wait whilst Tom finished his shower though and we left extremely swiftly.
We did find a nice room in a hotel closer to the centre with a double bed, a single bed, a TV and wonderful air conditioning. It was a fairly new hotel as many of the accommodation in Ba Na Hin is as it begins to experience the tourist boom with travellers using the town as a base camp for the Konglor Cave. Finally, we had arrived at our destination albeit one day late. The night spent in Vieng Kham, I should say the few hours we spent there consisted of a cramp nights sleep trying not to fall of the bed that all three of us shared and finally getting the bus straight to Ba Na Hin in the morning.
On our walk into town accompanied by the hotel's dog who liked to follow us wherever we went, we dropped into the tourist information chalet which was run by a eccentric 30 year old Laos guy who was full of enthusiasm for his surrounding countryside. We ended up organising motorcycles for our trip to the caves the following day. He also told us about the bus onwards to Vientiane.
It took us around an hour to travel the 50km to the cave and we arrived at the entrance to the park where we had to stop at the barrier to pay the entrance fee to the national park area. We parked our bikes up and found the hut where all the guides were hanging out, drinking, talking and smoking. We negotiated a price for a boat trip through the cave and were handed life jackets. The guide got up and led us down to the cave entrance.
|Entrance to the Cave|
|Our guide dragging the boat through shallow waters|
Up ahead, the cave lightens gradually and suddenly we're out in the open water speeding through the jungle that surrounds the river. My hands quickly search my head for sunglasses as my pupils shrink causing slight painful readjustment. The boat was slowly grounded on the banks of the river where we got out for a short while for a drink in a Laos tourist trap before we headed back through the cave to our starting point.