We were in the middle of the jungle at an eco resort situated on a bend of Mekong River's tributary, about 50 km from Vientiane. It had been highly recommended to us by a Dutch couple we'd met in Pak Beng. To earn the right to use an "Eco" label, the resort had made a strong commitment to sustainable tourism working hard on issues like recycling. The eco resort also used solar energy when possible and the bungalows were built of locally available materials.
Lao Pak eco resort
First morning after our arrival at Ban Pako we were the first up for breakfast, as our bungalow was full of biting ants. The waiter eventually showed up with sleepy eyes to receive our orders. Fresh bread was not yet available; instead we ordered banana pancakes - that turned out to be the best we had ever tasted - and strong Laotian coffee. We told the bungalow staff about the problem with ants in our bungalow. The resort staff was puzzled; they hadn't had any complaints before. We moved to another bungalow soon after breakfast.
"Harm nothing on Ban Pako Land"
Time we spent in Ban Pako was unhurried and relaxing. We wandered along the nature trails in the jungle, admired the numerous butterflies and rested in hammocks on our balcony during the hottest time of the day. The staff recommended for us to go swimming and tubing in the river. We tried both and had a good time. Foolishly enough we had brought snorkeling gear with us. It took just a blink to discover there was zero visibility in the muddy water.
From time to time boats stopped at the pier bringing new visitors, single travelers or groups of a few people. There were many activities at the resort. Boat trips and jungle hikes were organized as well as visits to nearby villages, etc. However, most guests seemed just wanting to relax and enjoy the jungle atmosphere for a couple of days.
This lizard was the largest animal we saw in Ban Pako
Service at the resort was friendly and everything worked - eventually. The staff seemed to have embraced a relaxed attitude and they only really came "alive" just before sunset to play a game of volleyball. After the game they distributed solar energy electric lamps to the bungalows and collected food orders for dinner. The menu was varied enough, but in reality the kitchen only had supplies for a couple of different dishes each night. There was local food, such as fried rice with vegetables, pork or fish and a couple of western dishes. The food was always tasty but you had to wait for it for what seemed like an eternity. Some of the younger travelers seemed to have trouble coping with this fact.
We had arrived in Ban Bako by boat, but just out of curiosity we ordered a car to fetch us back to Vientiane. The travel guide we knew already was thrilled when he saw us happy, despite the minor irritations we'd experienced during our stay. We threw our bags into the jeep and jumped aboard. The road was extremely bumpy until we reached the Som Mai village. I wondered how difficult it would have been to travel in the rainy season? We drove slowly and were followed by a huge cloud of dust.
We asked our guide about the loud bangs at we had heard each night. He just shrugged his shoulders and told us that poor villagers shoot rats in the jungle. – Sometimes, if they manage to shoot many, they come to the market place to sell them.
Liz relaxing in a hammock
Local guy fishing on the Nam Ngum River at dusk
It was quite surprising to find a sauna in the middle of a jungle in Laos
Toilet and cold water shower
Inside of our bungalow. Note the mosquito net, an absolute necessity
Harmony of Nam Ngum River at sunset
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