Koen needs to visit a Coffee Co-Op, on the Bolaven Plateau about 10km further up the hill, to evaluate its worth as a tourist destination, and he and Tim have made it clear that cycling there is not an option...
So, we walk 500metres out to the main road where, we have been told, there are buses that can be flagged down. After 15 minutes of seeing no buses travelling in either direction, we leap out in front of a light truck that is heading in the direction we wish to go. Without much difficulty we explain our travel desires to the 3 men in the truck cabin, negotiate a slightly exhorbitant price, and clamber in the back where numerous women are engaged in animated gossip. It is a fun ride, and certainly less strenuous than cycling.
Soon enough we arrive. There is a palm-thatch wigwam out the front of the building and an intoxicating stink of coffee in the air. We find some young foreigners in the building and let them know we have come for breakfast and coffee. I make it clear that I am starving, as I didn't eat anything the previous evening. We order baguettes [from previous trips in SE Asia we have discovered that Laos learned something very important from the French who colonised them for about 100 years...how to make bread]...the chef seems a little dubious about his ability to deliver, but makes a phone call, and proudly announces that fresh baguettes will arrive imminently [see main pic].
Breakfast, including coffee, are excellent! I order seconds! Koen, meanwhile, has obtained Travel Agency intelligence. It seems the young foreigners are budget philanthropists who saw an opportunity to assist the small-scale coffee growers of Bolaven Plateau, by organising them into a Co-op, and assisting with branding and marketing. Now they have taken possession of a brand-new Chinese knock-off of the world's most popular boutique coffee-bean roasting engine...and we are invited to observe them trying to coax the beast into producing a marketable product [see slideshow].
The Co-op spokesman did reveal to us that the most successful philanthropic achievement has been the digging of several artesian bores to supply cleanish water to several local schools, along with education on how to wash hands to minimise cholera, etc.
We make our way back to the Tad Fane resort by a combination of regular bus plus walking...
|exposure mode||full manual|