To Houn and Back Part II / by Joshua P Jacks

Thanks for checking out Part II of our “To Houn and Back” series. Last week served as an introduction to the series as well as a short summary of our first day of travel.

The second day was quite an adventure! We ended up getting a late start out of Oudomxay because I couldn’t find my loupe (giant eyepiece). I used it during our temple filming the night before and we spent a chunk of the morning retracing our steps. I found it a week later in one of my mic boxes:) After that, we headed to the town of Houn and by the time we reached the district’s main village, it was time for lunch! We ate at one of Singkham’s favorite noodle shops and headed out.

Noodle Shop Kitchen.

Amazing noodles with beef and chicken.

Singkham and I.

We left Houn town to check out Ban Talae. This mountain top village is home to a newly discovered waterfall and we were told that it was a 45 minute drive from the main road and had some stunning vistas for us to take in. The reports were half right :) 

This is the "new" road. Took us two and half hours to get to this nice section of freshly "graveled" road.

We took off down a narrow dirt road and after about 20 minutes I gave up the wheel to a much better driver in Bruce! With the 4WD engaged, we headed up the mountain. I didn't get any pictures of this sketchy road because I was too focused on my slightly irrational fear of dying. The 45 minute trip turned into a three hour uphill adventure. 

One of the many villages we passed through en route to Ban Talae.

One of the many villages we passed through en route to Ban Talae.

One of the many villages we passed through en route to Ban Talae.

We passed through multiple villages that sat at the top of beautiful tree covered mountains. Each time, a local would tell us that Ban Talae was only 20 minutes away. We quickly realized that nobody had a watch and that it was DEFINITELY not 20 minutes away! Each time we crested another mountain, we failed to see Ban Talae, but were presented with another breathtaking view. The trip took much longer than expected, but it was a journey we’ll never forget. 

Crazy rock formations with rice homes on the edge.

Landslide.

Another "model village" we passed through heading to Ban Talae.

Ban Talae is a village of the Khmu ethnic group and was full of beautiful and friendly people. They had never met a westerner and encouraged us to bring our friends and family the next time! They were thrilled that we had come to visit them and even sent some of their young people to guide us around the village and down to the waterfall. Bruce took this shot and you can check out more of Bruce's work Here.

Ban Talae Welcome Party.

Ban Talae

Shortly after arriving, Singkham started handing out the snacks!

Singkham chatting with our new friends. He's also Khmu!

This shot of Talae Waterfall was taken by Bruce! Check out more of his work at www.brucedirden.com

Ban Talae

Friendly Kmhu man with a cigarette.

This grandmother and her friends helped us clean up after the hike.

Group shot sans Bruce. He was behind the camera for this one. Don't worry I'll get him in one of these posts :)

Our time spent in the village came to an end as the sun started to set. Our new friends told us that we could actually shave  few hours off the trip if we headed west down the other side of the mountain rather than returning the way we came. We said goodbye to Ban Talae and headed down the mountain. This leg was just as beautiful as our trip here. With just an 1/8 of a tank of gas left, we were happy about the mostly downhill drive.  

We'll continue down the mountain and into our friend's village in Part III. Check back soon!!!

The start of the road back down the mountain.