Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jarring

Tad Lang: the lowest and biggest drop

The Lao province of Xieng Khouang (Xieng Khuang) is not synonymously known for it's natural attractiveness. But rather for it's historical significance: most recently as the Vietnam War's location of dirty deeds when US aircraft saturated the area with bombs in a futile attempt to stem the communist Vietnamese from gaining the overhand in Vietnam. Simultaneously aiding their ally, the Hmong people, in their own attempt to avoid Lao from subsiding into communism.

More historically significant are the occurrence of man-size jar-like artifacts, hewn from stone and 2000 year beyond their birth; baffling researchers and tourists alike.
Neatly concentrated at a number of sites within Xieng Khouang province, these jars point to sophistical funeral rites.

Lots of jars

It's near one of the more picturesque sites where these jars can be found that one can visit Tad Lang (Tat Lang): a tumble of water, falling over the edge of the plain into the moist monsoonal forest.

Site 3 of the Plain of Jars is found in village of Xiengdi, due south of Phonsavan, the provincial capital. The ride here is a rough ride over unsurfaced roads slowly becoming less wide. Three km's before the jar site, one can head down a clearly indicated track towards the waterfall, which is about 1 km away from the turn off. Just before the waterfalls themselves is a small guardpost where a local villager will hand out entrance tickets in return for 10,000 kip (Dec. 2010 ~ US$ 1,20).


One continues to the top of the falls. The wide stretch of barren rocks stands as witness of the fury to be encountered in the rainy season, however now, a few months after the last rains, there is only a two meter water stream finding it's way down in a series of smaller falls to the base about 60m below the top.
The biggest fall is at the bottom about 15m. The top of the waterfall contains a number of pleasant pools, which are probably an attraction to locals, foreign tourists straying here seem very infrequent. On a week day the place is for one own though villagers still stride through the upper area on their way to their fields and/or forest. Lower down, the pools are not nearly as good but much more secluded for those preferring this.

Rocks made naked by high monsoonal waters

On your way south out of Phonsavan stop by the tourist information, there's more (and extensive) information to be had concerning the province as well as a load of junk, otherwise known as unexploded ordinance (UXO). Essential to exploring the province in more depth is the "A Guide to Xieng Khouang" by Creutz and Van Den Bergh, though all of the text is also on Wikitravel.
Other web based info from Virtualtourist, while on travelpod there is this conclusion by Zombywoof:
'... the waterfall was loud and impressive'.

Definitely not a waterfall fanatic.

There are also a couple of photo's by phnomsin on opera, which wraps up another waterfall entry.

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