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July 20th Vientiane to Vang Vieng, Laos

LAOS | Sunday, 20 July 2008 | Views [781]

Woke up in the morning and had breakfast. Angy and both ordered the French breakfast which was the wrong choice. A baguette, butter, jelly, and a few pieces of pineapple. I guess it was free but still I could have had more. We hopped into our mini-bus which was to bring us to Vang Vieng. Fortunately for this mini-bus ride there were only 11 people in the bus this time compared to 18. They were also all fellow travelers like us. So there was a bit of camaraderie. There were many of the same sites around the roads that we had seen in some of the other countries. You know, like naked kids running around, cow, chickens, ducks, dogs, oxen, and pigs who just seem to wander around wherever they want. One thing that was new however was the road that we had to cross was covered under three feet of water. Before we went through the driver actually tied a rope from our mini-bus to a larger bus to help to pull us through. There were also local villagers ferrying passengers back and forth across the flooded portion of the road. Luckily the road underneath the water was still fully intact so our travel across was pretty easy. The rest of bus had no snags. The road was even pretty smooth Except that I really had to take a leak. Once we arrived in Vang Vieng the bus pulled into one of the local guesthouses. But we usually try to make a habit of not staying at the hotels our modes of transport try to drop us off at. We decide to stay at one of the nicer places in the little town. We didn’t have much of a choice. It was either bounce from guesthouse to guesthouse trying to find a comfortable and clean room or just go to a place we knew would have what we wanted. The choices were also to stay in a $4-$5 dollar a night room or a $20 a night room. We chose the latter. We checked the little map in our lonely planet guidebook and found our way to the hotel. It was very nice and it was right on the river. So while we were checking in I looked around at our bags on the floor and nearly shit myself (The back pack had the laptop with all our pictures in it). I realized that I had left the backpack on the mini-bus. While we were in the bus I had the backpack sitting in front of my feet. Angy had suggested that I set in this little rack above our heads. So when we got out of the bus I went straight to the bathroom while Angy waited to get the bags off the top of the bus. Then we left to find our hotel, leaving the bag in the mini-bus! I of course went to start running back to the hotel that we were initially dropped off at. I stopped 10 feet out to go back and open up my bag to put on my shoes instead running in my flip flops. So I ran back to the hotel and the guy at the front counter said that the bus had already picked up a group of people and was headed back to Vientiane. He tried calling the driver a few times and wasn’t able to get a hold of him. He said that there was no signal right now and he would try back later. He told me to go back to my hotel and he would call us when he got a hold of the driver. We obviously couldn’t wait that long so once I got back to the hotel we asked the girl at the front desk to call back to the other hotel to find out what had happened. She said that he got a hold of the driver and he would check for the bag as soon as he arrived in Vientiane. I actually think he said that after the guests got off the bus and if there were any bags left they would bring what was left back to us. Yeah right. I actually trusted the driver more than all the random backpackers in the van. So I made sure that the driver actually got the bag for us before anybody else tried to claim it as their own. Luckily we were successful and they said it would be there by 8 in the morning. (Angy) Kyle is totally downplaying this! He was so upset; he just sat there starring out! We were in this beautiful hotel on the river with an incredible view and he just sat there like a lump. I was worried too, but I felt confident we would get it back. I kept telling Kyle that we had good karma and we had been so lucky so far on the trip. I just had a feeling it would be ok, and I was also worried because all of our toiletries were in that bag as well, all of which are quite replaceable but what a pain to find all that in Laos! Kyle just said he didn’t believe in karma, and sat their glumly. So we had a beer. Then we went down to the restaurant that sat over the river and had another beer. We were waiting to call back to see if they had gotten a hold of the driver. We still hadn’t eaten any lunch or anything and it was after 4pm. Somehow we started talking about San Diego and how much we missed it. And what we would need to do to move back. Then we started to talk about all of our friends back in San Diego, and I brought up Jenn. We were talking about what it would be like pregnant. We did a few impressions of her and Kyle was laughing! Thank goodness he was in a little bit of a lighter mood. (I include this part of the story because I think Jenn would like to know that in our lowest moment of the trip she made us feel better! Thanks Jenn for being such a wonderful friend! We miss you!) Once we found out they had gotten a hold of the driver and that it would be brought back to us the next morning we went to check out the town. I seriously needed some food! WE went back to the original hotel that we had been dropped off at to make sure it was going to be ok. Then we found a small restaurant down the street. It was an open restaurant with elevated platforms with tables on it and cushions all around. The platforms were elevated about2 ½ to 3 feet off the ground with a small table on top. It was very comfy and casual. I ordered the ginger chicken and Kyle had the fish laap (laap is like ground fish, or it can be beef, chicken or pork, that is seasoned and placed on to of fresh greens, Kyle’s came on top of mint, but we had it another time and it was not served on greens). The food was great, and we had our first taste of Laos sticky rice, very sticky and it comes in a small basket with a lid. After lunch we didn’t really know what to do, it was pouring outside and it was almost 6pm or so. We went to the internet and then checked out the infamous “Friends” bars. This is an amazing thing that all the guidebooks talk about. Vang Vieng has all of these large restaurants with the elevated tables, they serve all sorts of drinks, western food and pizza and Laos food. And the main feature is that they all have several TV’s playing Friends all day long! And backpackers just sit there drinking and eating and watching Friends all day! So we had to see was all the hype was about. We went in for a quick drink. But we realized it is not that much fun to sit with a bunch of Westerners in the middle of Laos watching reruns of Friends that didn’t seem quite as funny as I remember the show to be! Our only consolation was that it was raining and there is really not that much to do in this town. We went back to our hotel to rest for a bit. I wasn’t feeling very good. I think the malarone (anti-malaria medication) has been making me feel nauseous. Then we were hungry again so we decided to just eat at our hotel, especially since we ran out of Kip and could charge the meal to the room. I just had some tomato soup and garlic bread, and Kyle had a curry. The tomato soup was good, it was like pureed tomatoes. But I still didn’t feel great so I went up to the room to read. Kyle was going to finish eating and then find a cash machine.

(Kyle)  I left the hotel and went o find the cash machine.  We had not previously located the cash machine so I wasn't exactly sure where to find it.  While walking around looking for the cash machine I realized that I passed somewhere along the road and decided to just walk around a little bit to see what was around there.

There were many restaurants and a few bars that seemed pretty lively this evening.  Alot of the bars were serving these buckets.  They are pretty much just sand box sized buckets filled with cheap Lao whiskey, red bull, pepsi, ice, and about a dozen straws.  Didn't look that great but I am sure it would get you drunk.

I made my way back down the street and found the ATM, I withdrew some Lao Kip and decided to see what was in the other direction.  There were not so many bars down this direction.  Many little snack carts, some restaurants, and a few guesthouses.  Other than that there wasn't anything else to see.

On the way back from walking there was a group of guys (Irish) walking towards me and one of them asked me if there was anything down the direction that I had just came from.  I told them no, that there wasn't anything to see.  They thanked me and asked what I was doing.  I told them that I was just walking back to my hotel room.

They asked me if wanted to go have a drink with them and I said, no thanks.  They then started heckling me and pretty much just grabbed me and said that I was going to have a drink with them.  So of course I reluctantly agreed (maybe not too reluctantly though).

We ended up going to one of those bars that had all those buckets of booze.  I just ordered a beer and we went and sat at a table.  These are not your typical tables.  They are the kind that are elevated a couple feet off the ground and the table is a foot off the seating surface.

It was some pretty good people watching.  Everyone was drunk and having a good time.  All the people in the bar were travelers and backpackers so there were people from all over the world sitting around me.  Then a song came on that is apparently an Irish favorite, because as soon as it came on all the Irish people in the bar stood up and starting singing along and swapping drinks.  It was quite interesting and amusing.

Shortly thereafter I decided to make my way out of there.  Isaid goodbye to everyone that I had been introduced to and walked back to the hotel.  When I got back Angy was awake and reading, she felt a little better.  She was also a little worried as to why it took so long to go to the ATM and back.  I told her my little story, cleaned up and went to bed.  Good night!


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