The bus from the capital of Laos (Vientiane) to Vang Vieng took 4 hours, and was the bumpiest and most windy journey ever! The roads literally just wind around the moutain, there is 1 main road up through Laos and this is it - crazy! Full of pot holes, just crazy. The one good thing in Laos driving is that unlike Cambodia and Vietnam the drivers dont continuisly beep at other drivers to let them know they are there, so it was a bumpy - but quiet journey! The drive was absolutely stunning though, as we got further north you could realy see the landscape changing and everything becoming green, lushious and mountainous. Absolutely beautiful drive.
Arrived in Vang Vieng around 6pm, unfortunately the bus station in some of the cities are some km out of the centre, making great business for the local tuk tuks drivers. They stop you at a hotel that they clearly have a deal with, they beep as you arrive in and then the owners come out offering you rooms. As usualy though, I had read my guide boom and knew it was walkable so off I went, a guy from my hostel in Vientiane had been on my bus to Vang Vieng so we walked toegther, looked around some places, then found a place with really cheap clean rooms. I had a double ensuite room for 3.87 sterling a night, cant beat it! ' Soutjai Guesthouse'. Dandered out to get some food nearby and bumped into 2 girls I had travelled through some of Cambodia with, Clare and Dot, so that was cool! After tea I priced up and booked onto a tour for tomorrow, a kayaking, caving and tubing trip, all in one, in one day - great value again at a fiver for all that with lunch included.
Vang Viend is a really pretty town, quite small and so easy to get to know which I like. It is known for its 'tubing' - hiring big rubber tubes to float down the river from bar to bar. You see loads and loads of really drunk people stumbling about, covered in paint (they do that at the bars for you?!) in their swim stuff, quite funny. But despite the drunken antics of the town it really is a beautiful place and I really liked it here, starbgely they play family guy and friends programmes on repeat here, very odd, so you get loadsa really drunk / stoned / hungover people just sat in bars staring at the tv watching the shows on repeat, haha!!
Friday 11th Nov in Vang Vieng I went on the day trip, leaving 9.30am, retruning 5pm. A jumbo tuk tuk picked lots of people up from all different guesthouses etc. Within 10 mins of our trip the tuk tuk broke downm, damaged shassey (spelling?!) from what I gather, so we all got off, all kayaks off the roof and waiited for another tuk tuk and got on that. 20 mins later the new tuk tuk engine / cabin started smoking vigorously, so we had to stop and let that calm down, haha, eventful and the day hadnt even started!! So first dtop was 'Phatan Village' where there is the 'elephant cave'; a natural structure made in the shape of an elephant. We then walked through rice fields and through the 'Patao' village where you could see normal village life occurring, washing, cooking, ironing etc. Then we went to the 'water cave' - in big rubber tubes! Ha, so we all got in these tubes. were given a head lamp each and we went into this little hole bewteen the cave and the water, into the pitch black and pulled oursleves along using a rope, right through the cave. was amazing!!! Water was soooooo cold though, but was an awesome experience. Lots of limestone stalactites and stalagmites in there, pulling yourself along, really cool.
After our caving and tubing they provided us with a BBQ style lunch which was yum, and we ate at a bamboo hut right by the cave, on the Namsong river, so was really scenic. After lunch we kayaked 8km down the river, stopping half way at a riverside bar for a drink...thats where it gets interesting!!!!!! I was in a kayak with another fella and when you are in the kayak you out your camera and money etc in a waterproff bag etc, in the kayak. Well we were lesiurely pulling in riverside to stop by the bar and I thought it would be great to get a wee photo, so opened up my waterproff bag etc. Unfortunately we didnt manage to stop as smoothly as I had hoped and we kept veering towards this outstrecthed piece of wood, head height. After lots o shouting in Laos, a wee Lao boy ran over and out onto the plank of wood to try and stop the kayaj before we were decapitated - but in doing so the kayak capsized!!! So theres me, non waterproof camera in hand, going underwater. I managed to reach my arm up as high as possible and keep my camera out of the water long enough for the Lao boy to gran it off me before I disappeared under water, haha!! Unbeleiveable, I thought my camera case with all my money had floated away but somehow someone had managed to save that too, so all was well. This was all much to the amusement of the french people in my group, who had managed to get my camera of the Lao guy and get some funny pics of me being brought back ashore, looking sllightly bewildered !! Haha, very amusing indeed! I have the Lao boy some money as a thank you!
That eveing, Fri 11th I went for Lao massage, head back and shoulders, 2.33 sterling. Gee mee - she totally malled me, clicked me so much, was soo rough and then randonly at the end plaited my hair for me??!! Very strange!!
I have booked onto a 7 hour bus from Vand Vieng for tomorrow, to head further north again to Luang Prabang, so that booked in for the morning. Got all packed up again, so far Im really enjoying Laos, the people and the landscape are just amazing and I feel really relaxed and safe here. Was lush to have 2 nights here and be able o unpack a bit etc, some places Im only having 1 night so 2 here was just lovely.
So its goodbye Vang Vieng and off to Luang Prabang I go.