16 March 2008

Bolaven Plateau

I made a trip to Champassak province and my first stop was the Bolaven Plateau.

I visited the waterfalls on the Bolaven Plateau. There were some steep climbs up and down. What's amazing about Laos is that when tourists are wearing their hiking boots to do a hard walk the Lao guide is negotiating rocky, slippery and/ or steep terrain in thongs! Not quite as good as the barefoot bushman but still very impressive.

We also saw some tea and coffee that grows in the fertile soils of the Bolaven plateau but I didn't think it was that interesting. Coffee to me is just another crop which I think is just interesting for foreigners because it's a luxury item. I saw areas where coffee was grown and I'm sure it would have looked much more beautiful when it was natural forest. I think I saw an area where coffee had been grown some time ago where I saw some scrawny coffee plants and it was really quite unattractive. Coffee seems to be a cash crop as I saw many houses growing it and having it dry out the front of their house. I just hope Oxfam did their cost- benefit analysis before they started their fair- trade coffee program. The economic theory suggests that giving a higher than market price for coffee says that their would be oversupply and more than optimal land used for the production. Too much forest could be cut down!

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