Magic day on Mystic Mountain Coffee sojourn

During Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images inviting you
to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

Mystic Mountain Coffee and Homestay is one of the best tourism spots in southern Laos and most probably the whole country providing visitors with adventure via a jungle Jeep tour, history and Laven ethnic group culture.
Today I’m bringing you the first day of my experience on this wonderful excursion.
The Jeep takes an hour to make its way from Pakxong town to our destination as we drive underneath a full moon along the very quiet and dusty road.
Our vehicle crosses a small river into the forest and stops in front of a small wooden house with some tents pitched beside. Also nearby are two lovely bamboo huts. We have arrived at Mystic Mountain Coffee and Homestay.

Guests inhale the rich aroma of roasted coffee.

It looks very simple but everything is so well organised. I walk straight to the bathroom to freshen up after our dusty trip. It may be made of bamboo but has everything that we need, especially warm water.
Mr Khamsone Souvannakhily, owner of the community-based tourism venture suggests we should go to bed early because tomorrow our day will start very early. I slip into a deep sleep in the relaxingly quiet setting and awake to the crow of enthusiastic roosters and some people talking.
It’s still a bit dark when we start walking so we can arrive at our lookout to watch the sunrise.
We walk through the coffee farm and in just ten minutes arrive to catch the rising sun.
The lookout is not that elevated but affords us a great view of sunrise and the picturesque environs.
The sun covers the sky and emerging trees with a rich hue of red contrasting to the white fog still covering much of the surrounding forest.
We return for European and American style breakfast with fresh bread, fried eggs and also tasty pumpkin soup which is cooked by Khamsone’s wife.
Khamsone has a great coffee machine, so everyone enjoys fresh coffee.
Khamsone is not just the owner but also a great tour guide as well. He’s always active serving and taking care of visitors and tries to contribute as much information as possible to the guests.
Next up is the coffee class and he reveals the secrets of  making good coffee.
He roasts coffee using a very simple and old machine. He explains how long good coffee needs and which methods are best for American coffee, ice coffee, black coffee, cappuccino and espresso.
Khamsone is such a traditional and professional coffee maker he knows when it is ready simply by the sound of the coffee roaster and of course the rich aroma of the roasted beans.
By luck, it’s now the coffee harvest season so we join some workers picking coffee beans.
We only select the red ‘cherries’ because the beans inside are ready for coffee production. A chat with staff reveals all the hard work that goes into coffee farming.
At noon, we have lunch together with the workers under the shade of coffee trees.
In the afternoon, we visit a house close to the river where the workers stay.
The coffee pickers are from other districts in Champassak and just stay during the harvest season. They’re paid 1,000 kip per kilogram and earn around 50,000 to 80,000 kip per day.
Later on, we enjoy a cooking class, especially the foreign visitors who learn the basics of Lao cuisine such as papaya salad and sticky rice.
Given its elevation, the farm gets quite cool in the evening but Mystic Mountain Homestay has an open fire in the yard which we sit around to have dinner, drinks and snacks.
After dinner, Khamsone tells us our plans for tomorrow. The most interesting activity is a three-hour trek in the jungle along the Ho Chi Minh Trail to some local people’s coffee farm to view sunset.
I can’t wait for the new adventure.

By Patithin Phetmeuangphuan  
(Latest Update December 15, 2018)

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