From Vientiane it was a 4 hour journey to Vang Vieng, where we found a cheap, basic guesthouse before getting some lunch in one of the many cafes, with almost sofa-like tables and chairs, that show Friends episodes non-stop from 9am till 11pm!! After absent-mindedly getting through 5 or 6 episodes, we wandered around the very small town, that consisted almost purely of bars, restaurants, internet cafes and guesthouses. It was full of young people and was therefore very touristy, but at the same time it was really laid back, so a good place to relax for a few days. I became a true South East Asia traveller buy purchasing a pair of the baggy, elasticated 3/4 length trousers that loads of girls wear, because they are sooo comfy and then we had dinner in a restaurant that was showing Family Guy rather than Friends. That night we ventured across the bamboo bridge to the bars that were practically empty and closed at midnight, where we met two English girls, our age - one of whom is going to Oxford in October, to the college down the road from Gareth's! Very strange. At the same bar, a crazy guy collapsed onto me after drinking a tiny amount of a magic mushroom shake which were sold in almost every bar there. That was a bit scary.
On Sunday we decided to take part in the most popular Vang Vieng activity - Tubing. Although i don't think that's a very good name for it, as i imagine people sitting inside a massive tube, floating down the river, whereas in fact it is just a rubber ring (made from the inside of a tractor tyre) that you sit in (trying to avoid the fairly sharp rocks hidden in the water). The river itself is lined with bars, all with people holding out long bamboo sticks in the hope that you ill grab onto it and let them reel you into their bar, where you can do rope swings and zip wire into the water (if you're crazy enough like Gareth and Nush) between the free shots of whisky they offer you. Most people (*cough* Lucy) therefore end up getting quite drunk by the time they get to the finish point. It was a fun day but unfortunately the cloudy weather meant that it wasn't very busy and we ended up getting fairly cold bums from sitting in the water for so long!
The next day i was a lady of leisure, as Gareth went off to go rock climbing, and Nush did a kayaking and caving day. Both of them loved their activities and i was pleased as i managed to find an umbrella, as now it's starting to get into the wet season :(
On Tuesday, we decided to do a cycling and caving day together, booked through the same company as the other activities, who offer eco-friendly tourism and whose proceeds go towards conservation projects in Laos. We set off at about 9 with a funny tour guide, Ola, and also a lovely Dane called Eva, on a bumpy bumpy track into the countryside. After 7km, we reached the blue lagoon, where we climbed a shockingly steep rockface to reach the cave where we endured much more clambering and rock dodging. It was good but challenging, especially coming back down from the cave! We then had some delicious buffalo steak and vegetable kebabs with egg fried rice, before taking a dip in the lagoon. After that it was a 16km journey back to Vang Vieng, at times literally wading through waist high rivers with a strong current, whilst carrying our bikes (ok so Ola actually carried mine and Nush's bikes but it was still very hard). We finished the day watching the sun go down behind the karsts that provide the backdrop of Vang Vieng. After our our last dinner a la Friends (as we'd be setting off for Luang Prabang tomorrow), Gareth and i got an early night while Nush crossed the bamboo bridge to the sunset bar.
The next morning i was slightly worried that Nush wasn't answering her bedroom door, but thought she could easily be having breakfast or in the shower but when it got to ten minutes before we had to leave for the bus station and she still hadn't checked out of , we were a bit worried! She texted me to say she'd overslept and was on her way back from Alice and Emma's so we should get on the bus without her, but luckily she managed to get a motorbike to the bus station just in time to make it!
It was a long journey of windy mountain roads with beautiful scenery (minus the woman throwing up next to us that Nush took care of as the driver didn't really seem to care!) but after about nearly 6 hours we made it to Luang Prabang xxxxx