Paksong (often spelled Pakxong due to the French influence) is a city at sort of the crest of the Bolaven Plateau. I use the term “city” loosely. But it is kind of quaint. It has been dubbed the “Coffee Capital of Laos.” There is no doubt that the coffee grown on the Bolaven Plateau is amongst the finest in the world, although not well known due to the comparatively low volume produced there.
There is a Dutchman, it is rumored, nicknamed “Mr. Coffee,” who lives there. In fact, it is rumored that there are even more expats there, but you have to look for them. I’m going to seek out Mr. Coffee and see what I can learn. I’ll publish the results on my blog. Meanwhile, I think this is his website: www.paksong.info. According to his map, there are about 16 buildings in Paksong, but I suspect these are the prominent ones. Like Paksong itself, his website is “quaint.”
My site is on the way to Paksong, just a few kilometers short of it, at Lak 45, which means the village at the 45 kilometer marker for Route 16E. It is very strange to drive from Pakse, the comparatively big city on the Mekong River, at an elevation of just over 100 meters, to Paksong, which is around 1,300 meters, in just 50 minutes. When I first went there, I imagined the same winding, precarious roads that you find between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, but I was wrong. It just goes up and up, pretty much in a straight line.
When you get up there, it seems awfully bland. They chose the most reasonable route for the road, because turning right off of it at Lak 45 and going in 200 meters brings you to “The Land that Time Forgot.” That’s my site. There is actually a small sign on the turnoff with the name of the waterfall. I’ll probably resist the temptation to rename it even though I’ve got control over it for the next 30 years. The building in the photo shown above is sort of a shed. The owner seems to like sleeping there, though he’s got a house on some separate land at the entrance to the site.
From his shed there is a 60 meter long steep grade, which doesn’t look steep in the photo, but it is. I know it is 60 meters long because I’ve got to build a decent concrete strip road for access. On the right hand side of this slope, built into the slope from the bottom towards the top, will be my mysterious aquaponic greenhouse/mushroom bunker structures.
Anyway, having safely proceeded to the bottom of this slope, you are at what I call the “middle tier.” This is where the river appears from a corner and progresses to the waterfall. It’s sort of the main tier, but I’ve not decided exactly what I’m going to do here. If the water temperatures prove to be conducive to trout farming (cold enough all year) then I’ll pull water in to raceways and feed it back above the weir before the waterfall. Flow of the river. Plenty of room for guest lodging, too.
This middle tier is vast, to say the least. I’ve been to the land many times but not fully explored it. I’m afraid of the creatures that lurk within the fauna and flora. Having reached the waterfall itself, and risking a precarious inching towards its edge, one can get a good view of the weir about ten meters before the 14 meter fall. I’ll have to ask who supplied those tables and chars, not to mention who built the weir, and why.
The stream enters at the back left-hand side of the middle tier and and meanders along to the waterfall at just about the middle of the property. It then drops down to the lower tier and meanders along the right-hand side, exiting the property at its lowest point.
The fascinating bit is the lower tier. There is a steep track to the left of the waterfall, but you’ve got to cross over on the weir. I’ll build a simple log bridge upstream a bit to make this easier. On the right of the waterfall, it is impossible to go down to the lower tier, unless you can do a decent belly flop into the pool at the base of the waterfall. This bottom tier is more like a bowl with some basically flat area in the middle but somewhat steep slope on the left. This slope is covered with coffee and a variety of shade trees. I will eventually build “villas” into the side of this slope. No area for coffee will be lost because it will be growing on the rooftops (i.e. living roofs)