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ຖໍ້ານໍ້າລອດເຊບັ້ງໄຟ ທີ່ເມືອງບົວລະພາ ແຂວງຄໍາມ່ວນ

ຖໍ້ານໍ້າລອດເຊບັ້ງໄຟ: ເປັນສະຖານທີ່ທ່ອງທ່ຽວທາງທຳມະຊາດ ທີ່ໜ້າສົນໃຈ ແລະ ມີມົນສະເໜ່ໃນຕົວຂອງສະຖານທີ່ ໂດຍເປັນອີກແຫ່ງໜຶ່ງຂອງແຂວງຄຳມ່ວນທີ່ເປັນຈຸດໜາຍປາຍທາງຂອງນັກທ່ອງທ່ຽວທັງພາຍໃນ ແລະ ຕ່າງປະເທດ ທີ່ມີຈຸດພິເສດດ້ານຄວາມສວຍງາມດ້ານທໍາມະຊາດ ແລະ ມີຄວາມ ກ້ວາງໃຫຍ່ກ່ວາບັນດຖໍ້າອື່ນໆ ໃນຂອບເຂດນີ້.  ສໍາລັບຖໍ້ານໍ້າລອດເຊບັ້ງໄຟ ແມ່ນມີຄວ່ມຍາວເຖິງ 9.5 ກິໂລແມັດ ສາມາດຂຶ້ນລົດໄປຕາມເສັ້ນທາງ ເລກທີ 12 ເມືອງມະຫາໄຊ, ແລ້ວລ້ຽວຂວາມຸ່ງລົງສູ່ຖໍ້ານໍ້າລອດເຊບັ້ງໄຟ ຢູ່ທາງດ້ານຕາເວັນອອກສຽງເໜືອຂອງເມືອງບົວລະພາ ໂດຍຕັ້ງຢູ່ບ້ານໜອງປີງ ຫ່າງຈາກ ເມືອງ 15 ກິໂລແມັດ. 


Laos is rich in natural beauty that can be seen all around when one travels the country but some of the most amazing natural beauty can also be found below ground in the country’s many limestone caves.
Amongst the most spectacular caves that explorers cannot miss is the one carved out by the Xe Bang Fai river.

The great cave of Tham Khoun Xe, otherwise known as the Xe Bang Fai river cave, is an underground segment of Xe Bang Fai River situated in a remote corner of Khammuan province.

It was explored by a French team in 1905 and then again in 1995. The cave was relatively unknown except to local people until its re-exploration in 2008 by a national geographic team which has since seen it become widely known internationally.

Based on the expedition report Tham Khoun Xe Cave is considered to be one of the largest sustained river passages in the world with enormous caverns decorated with highly impressive structures.

It originates from the edge of the large mountain chains between Laos and Vietnam. In imagination, following the river, it is seemed that the river disappears into a large channel into the karst mountains. The river flows out again in the large crystal clear water pond near Ban Nong Ping.

The Xe Bang Fai River Cave is almost 12 kilometres in length, some 76 metres high and 56 metres wide.
From the entrance of the cave, we take a boat for 2km and encounter some large rapids.
The massive expanse of the cave is decorated with sprout stone and swag stone which is spectacular when illuminated.

The villagers keep this as a prohibited area for fish breeding. Villagers believe that this area is the source of the Xe Bang Fai river and it is known as “KhounXe Cave” which means the origins of Xe Bang Fai river. Based on the local beliefs, the cave is the living place of the ghost protector to protect the villagers.

It is said that, once upon the time, a villa ger left his broken music instrument at the cave entrance, and the next morning, the instrument was well fixed and usable.
It is also believed that the soul protectors help the villagers if they fall from the cliff while trying to catch swallows and bats near the cave entrance because no one has ever died during a fall. Also, the cave never sustained any bomb damage during the war.
However, the villagers are still not safety aware and do not warn visitors to wear helmets in the cave.
Every year, the villagers hold a ceremony to worship the cave’s soul protectors at the cave entrance, to ensure safety.
However, please do not challenge the traditional beliefs. It is advised to always have a local tour guide from the village to guide you into the cave.

Besides the stunning beauty of the cave itself, the surrounding area is also home to the Hin Nam Nor National Protected Area which is some 82,000 hectares in size. It is a refuge for many species of rare wildlife. Tigers reportedly still roam inside while four species of hornbill have been recorded within the park.

The Hin Nam Nor National Protected Area is now proposed to become a World Heritage site. The Xe Bang Fai River Cave is a part of the protected area. The villagers manage this area for community adventure tours and promote sustainable development in the community.

Besides enjoying the amazing cave, visitors can also enjoying kayaking or rowing on request, instead of using motorised boats, thereby preserving the environment and not disturbing the thousands of bats that live in the cave.
The village boat group provides various tours for visitors including:

The short tour: Visitors can ride a boat inside the cave for 300 metres and climb up to see the cave called the ‘Balcony cave,’ which is similar to the dragon cave. This tour is for visitors who are willing to walk through the mud and climb quite high in to the cave. It takes around an hour.

The long tour: Visitors enjoy a boat ride inside the cave for 2km to where the rapids are and return and stop at the balcony area to see the view and then get back in the boat to ride out into the daylight again.

This tour is for visitors who want to touch the adventure inside the cave and listen to the sounds of the rapids in the dark and then climb up to explore the cave before exiting. It is of medium difficulty and takes around two hours to complete.

Besides the Xe Bang Fai tour, there are other tours that caan be done by bicycle, such as the Bing and Long caves tour. Bing cave is a segment of Xe Bang Fai cave; the entrance is on the mountain on the north side of the of the Xe Bang Fai cave entrance.
The Bing cave entrance is smaller than Xe Bang Fai cave. Inside, we can be amazed by the stalagmites and stalagtites. In the segment area, it is about 700 meters long before opening to the large hall of the cave through which the river flows. Exploring Bing Cave takes about an hour.

Long Cave is located about 300 metres from Nong Ping village. This cave used to contain ancient coffins made of hardwood.
During the war, the cave protected villagers from the bombs, and the northern Vietnamese army who travelled on the Ho Chi Minh trail also sheltered in the cave, which can accommodate thousands of people.

Trekking from Nong Ping village to Long cave takes about 30 minutes. Visitors are not advised to visit the Xe Bang Fai cave from June to October as it has a strong water flow and can be dangerous. However, the villagers provide other services such as home-stays and village accommodation. Access to tourist sites is more difficult in the rainy season, but they can be accessed all year round by boat from Pak Pha Nang village.

Source: Vientiane Times
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