A boy named Sue

17 Mar

what’s that got to do with anything… and what does THIS say in Lao?

Tim Guesthouse (1)

All will be revealed…later

I saw a poster while I was staying at the guest house in Pakse – a day trip into the Bolaven plateau. Very tempting – but I realised that I would end up charging from one place to another – and I didn’t really need to see a tea plantation – or a coffee plantation either. The waterfall sounded nice though!

But, I thought to myself, could I just go and do what I wanted to myself. A little bit of research revealed that if I got a local bus to Ban Khoua Set and then a local transport to Tat Lo, then I could go and see the waterfalls, live in a Lao village and have some fun too. And I might even be able to stay in Tim Guesthouse. Sorry, but that’s just too good to resist!

I knew I needed some more cash, so down to the ATM to get another million out… I thought about getting more out so I could be a multimillionaire…..

And in the morning I hopped into a tuk tuk (this time, one that’s essentially a motorcycle side car, only without all the safety features), negotiated the driver down from 30,000 kip to 25,000 and set off. Half way there, my hat blew off… but fortunately all the traffic missed it (try doing THAT in Bangkok – would bring a whole new meaning to the words ‘flat cap’.

I arrived at the bus station, gave the driver 30,000 kip anyway (with a grin – it’s all a game) yelled ‘Tat Lo’ to anyone who might be listening and was told that the bus was just leaving. With my new lighter pack (see the next blog for more details on THAT one) and having lost a few pounds myself, I sprinted to the bus – backpack on the roof, me inside.. best not to get those confused. There are bags of rice in the aisle, and a little girl moved onto her father’s lap for me to sit down. I spent the next little while as he explored my copy of the Lonely Planet – reading slowly with a little bit of help, and marvelling at the pictures of Laos (and Cambodia, come to think of it).

The bus dumped us at Ban Khoua Set with a confused French and Canadian couple saying ‘well, this is where you wanted to come’ – I pretty quickly diagnosed the fact that really they didn’t want to be in Ban Khoua Set and thought they were already in Tat Lo. (Ban – town, Tat – waterfall). Having worked out that we all wanted to go to the same place, I commandeered a local truck, negotiated a price to Tat Lo and hopped on.

Fortunately, they had a place at Tim’s. The owner, Soulideth. named it after his wife…it turns out in Laos, ‘Tim’ is a girl’s name. So I have a Lao girl’s name… which explains the title of the post, maybe.

Tim Guesthouse (2)Tim Guesthouse (4)Tat Lo truck 2

It’s in the middle of rural Laos, although the waterfalls have made it a bit of a haven for the fa rang – and even the dam that destroyed the third waterfall (damn!) hasn’t demolished its appeal.

We have a British couple  who are motorcycling round the world, quite a few Europeans.. and some lovely Lao here. I’m in a wonderful traditional bamboo hut on stilts.. I am intrigued by the continual noise of a little boy making motor car noises at all hours of the day – until I realise it’s actually a pig next door.

DSCF2249There are a couple of other noises I haven’t identified, but nothing that causes me to worry unduly. There’s good food, and smooth jazz playing incongruously in the restaurant Although my sleep is somewhat disturbed by an insomniac cockerel and the labourers who start concreting the wall next to my hut at 6am

My place at Tim's (1)My place at Tim's (3)Round the world bike www.2roundtheworld.com


The waterfalls are lovely, though – first of all a walk up to Tat Huang, just above the village. The kids are out (what, no school?) and the locals are looking for fish – or eels, or something – in the river. River at Tat Lo (7)River at Tat Lo (1)

There’s a fisherman at the foot of the falls, looking for fish in the foaming waters below, and I wonder what the falls would be like in the rainy season.

Tat Huang (11)Tat Huang (1)

Rather than take the road, I decide to walk up stream, discovering a couple of elephants on the way. It’s not that easy to walk on the bank, and eventually I have to drop into the river to make progress, but eventually I arrive at the second falls, tat Lo itself. Again, it’s beautiful – I take a dip and find that the current is quite strong, turning it into another treadmill. Some other tourists and a couple of locals take a jump off the top of the falls – I’m tempted, but a little wary of spinal injury.

Up River (21) - CopyTat Lo Falls (3)Tat Lo Falls (20)Tat Lo Falls (24)

But I do discover a version of Munch’s ‘The Scream’ in the rock – what do you think?

Tat Lo Falls (12)

It’s so peaceful here, there’s lots of time to think and plan- time to write some cool blog posts, and time, also to really encapsulate what I am about – some really lovely insights, and some more pieces falling into place. Merlin and Arthur are in there somewhere, and some Neuro-Linguistic Programming, some Huna, and some of my story. Man, I am going to be busy when I get back!! But something really crystallised today about what I do.. I need to work on how I communicate it – it needs the right set of words, but it’s really what people have been telling me I do for some time now – just the crucial piece of the jigsaw that allows me to step back and say ‘I know what it is now!’. And that was worth coming here for!

I decide to take a walk in the country the next day – just wandering through villages and farms, looking up at where the old waterfall would have been (and it would have been gorgeous).

Tat Lo village (3)Tat Huang evening (3)

I wandered round to Tat Huang in the evening – just me and the waterfall – and watched a thousand mayflies whirling and soaring above me, while in the water a hundred water boatmen fight the surge of the current.

It’s been a great stay – but I have itchy feet again, and I’m starting to remember what it’s like to keep moving, keep exploring, keep looking for new things…so, back on the bus to Champasak, via Pakse (again)….and one or two closing shots of Tat Lo village – note the incongruous satellite dishes..




2 Responses to “A boy named Sue”

  1. seeharhed March 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    I think the proper way to spell her name in English is “Thim”. Thim is a very common nick name in Laos and some part of Thailand. If I may suggest another destination, try Don Khong.. It is a lovely place there.

    • Tim Hodgson March 20, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

      Perhaps – all I can go by is how Soulideth spelt it!

      I did end up in Don Det (and so Don Khon) but not Don Khong… but still lovely. Thanks…

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