Fortunately we did not stay in the park overnight as the storm bought down several trees. We hired an outboard canoe, crossed the rickety bamboo bridge and took off for our adventure into Kong Lo cave, following the river underground for 7.5km. We idled past the bats at the cave mouth, and were first boat in for the day. The otherwise total darkness was offset by reflections in our torch beams, head and cap lamps. At some points we had to get out into the cold water to carry the boat over shallows, and then walked up into stalagmite and stalactite chambers and cathedral caverns. This is normally a semi-lit pathway but the lighting had been blown out by the storm. (Thanks to Cheryl for photos of canoe trip - Wanderoos left camera behind in vehicle...)
We came out the other end into remote Natan Village, and looked around before returning to find the solemn mood disturbed by many more boats and people in the cave. We came out of the mouth to the amazing spectacle of white butterflies swarming. The whole magical experience was topped off by jumping into the icy cold water to find ourselves surrounded by decent sized diamond backed fish with yellow underfins.
Following lunch we got on the road back through tobacco farms and limestone country to turnoff, and turned north towards Vientiane.
We pulled up alongside peaceful Mekong River, GirlRob did load of washing whilst Rob cooked masaman chicken. News from home says bird flu escalating although no human to human contact proved. A medical alert says many people have stopped eating chicken, ducks, eggs and pork throughout China, not just affected areas. Awaiting news from NAVO whether the earthquake in south west will affect our itinerary eg pandas in natural habitat near Chendu. Uzbekistan has been upgraded to "high degree of risk to travel" so now goes on our "watching brief" list. Sometimes it’s just not worth checking up on the rest of the globe…