25 kms upstream from Luang Prabang, is the Tam Ting or Pak Ou Cave. It’s at the confluence of the Mekong and Ou Rivers. You can go there by boat or car. We chose the boat. Travelling with about 5 others, it’s a great option and included a visit to a local village where they make the infamous lao-lao whiskey.
It was a stinking hot day when we made the trip. The three day weather forecast was 38, 38, 37, with high humidity. It was quite comfortable in the boat because it had a cover and there was a cool breeze coming off the water.
We had about a twenty minute stop at the village to check out the primitive lao lao whiskey making facilities, check out the village and all its little souvenir shops. It was a bit early in the day for trying out the whiskey. I’ve tried it before and it’s pretty powerful stuff! I was tempted by the bottles with the snakes inside but I think I’ll be sticking to the Beerlao, the locally produced beer.
At Pak Ou there is an upper and a lower cave. They are both packed with Buddha images donated by visitors over many years. You can walk right up to them. No screens, glass or barriers and no security in sight. Some Australian aid money has helped with the restoration and maintenance of the cave and surroundings. It has had royal visitors on many occasions over time and there is evidence of people going there more than 1200 years ago.
It was hot work climbing the many stairs to the upper cave but it was worth the effort. Although one woman from New Zealand gave up halfway there. It’s quite large, cool and musty with lots more images of Buddha, in varying sizes, materials and poses.
A relaxing trip back along the Mekong River takes you past fishermen, people washing, buffalo, some interesting houses of varying standards, other boats and some nice scenery. The river level is low at the moment but I couldn’t believe how many exposed rocks there were in the Mekong. We arrived back at the dock about 5 hours after heading off!