Daytrip from Thakheak to the Tin Mines and cave

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Auke, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    While visiting friends in Thakheak we decided to visit the tin mines near Ban Phonthiu about 80 km north of Thakheak and see if we could locate Tham Luang.

    The tin mines are easily reachable by driving north on Rd 13 till the village of Si Som Zeoun and then follow a reasonable good dirt road to the northeast for about 30 km. The mines where started by the French who brought in most of the workers from Vietnam and the local architecture does show the foreign influence as is evident from the old church (17 53.945 N and 104 35.748 E but now abandoned).

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    The tin mines (17 53.050 N and 104 36.434 E)are open cast and an environmental disaster with no reclamation of the mined area and the runoff from the tailings and wastewater polluting the Pathen river and making the water unusable for for human use for over 30 km. During the processing stage, arsenic sludge is produced but this does not prevent people to stand waste deep in the runoff to collect tin tailings as these can be sold to the factory for 20000 Kip/kg.

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    After the visit we tried to find the Tham Luang cave which we had tried in the morning as well but had given up on as we were led astray by the local who were more interested in a free trip to their village than in our search for the location. At 17 47.233 N and 104 36.573 we headed east along to Ban Nano. In this village the road splits but by heading northeast we finally managed to find the cave along a good dirt road where most of the bridges had been repaired so apparently the provincial tourism office has plans for the cave eventhough the tourism information centre in ThaKheak could not tell us anything about it.

    The cave itself (17 45.796 N and 104 40.144 E) is about 1.2 km long and goes completely through the mountain to an area with a few village.

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    The cave is used to transport supplies to these villages and as a result they have built numerous wooden walkways in the cave so that also in the rainy season people can travel through. We however chickened out going through the cave as one of our torchlight gave up at the start so we were left with only one torchlight between the two of us and we deemed this to risky to continue.

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  3. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    Fantastic post, keep up the good work, if i ever gonna have dirt bike wud love to heading to LAOS
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Auke
    Great report there mate - youve got another one on me there. That place was on my hit list when I was surveying for the LNTA guide maps, but we ran out of time & unfortunately I till have not had enough time to go back there & re-explore.
    Thakhek & Khammouane was the province that impressed me the most with seemingly unlimited caves & other tourist attrractions waiting to be "discovered" & put on the tourist map. So if youve got time, hang out in Khammouane when in Laos.
     
  5. scot harper

    scot harper Ol'Timer

    Aukey, bonza post, keep them coming, M8 I'm die'n to get to Laos!!
    Scott.
     
  6. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Auke - Great stuff!!! I enjoy the tidbits and background you offer on the locations you visit. Not only that but some GPS coordinates as well, thumbs up to you.

    Here's hoping we cross paths when I'm over there in a few weeks.
     

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