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Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Laos

LAOS | Monday, 11 February 2008 | Views [1170] | Comments [1]

Laos... oh my goodness Laos. I thought Cambodia was good... but Laos is a whole different world... Now I know why Robyn said you could spend months in this place. The clock is ticking and we have only 8 days left, and I feel like we don't have enough time in this country. We started in Vientiane, and unfortunately, after so much constant travel, it took its toll on Felix... we explored the city core, but decided to take it easy and have an off day where we could just catch up on sleep. We took a 6 hour bus ride to Vang Vieng, which is a little backpacker town, and its so laid back and chill. Adrienne.. you would LOVE this place! Yesterday, Felix, and I, and our new friend Wendy from Holland decided to just explore the city by town by foot. We soon found out that you could walk from one end to the next in about 15 minutes. It is such a friendly place, everywhere you go... the locals smile and shout out "Sabaa Di!" (which is Hi in Laosian??!!) We stopped by one of the little stalls for some beverages and the store owner ended up teaching us Laos phrases for 20 minutes. At one point, he even plopped his baby in my lap cause he wanted to grab a chair and get more comfortable. What a moment!
We took it very easy the first day... and it was actually a little surreal, because we were exploring the town centre and decided to grab dinner and found a couple of restaurants that have a very interesting set up. The dining area is a platform, all set up with a mat and comfy pillows and a little table... and you can basically just lounge for hours! Guess what we watched for 2 hours! "Friends! I was watching the last couple episodes of the last season of "Friends", in Laos. ""How weird is that!" All the restaurants here also have a penchant for Bob Marley and Jack Johnson, so you can imagine just how relaxed this place is!
The next day, we decided that we'd rent bikes so that we could cover more ground. One of the must see's in Vang Vieng is the caves, so we pedalled for a couple of hours.. (to be honest, the spinning classes did nada for me... my legs are like lead now!) and went exploring. Now on this trip, we have definitely done our fair share of caves, from Guilin, to Halong Bay, but this takes it to a whole new level. Picture this... we had to bike for about 30 minutes on the bumpiest road, then trek through the brush and then scale a cliff... literally... (Blian and AA, you'd love the rock climbing here!). Thankfully we had a guide cause otherwise we would have gotten seriously LOST!
Our guide was this little boy who was maybe 10 and didn't really speak English... but Felix and him just hit it off right away. The whole time they were making mating calls by whistling through their hands. The kid had the nerve to laugh at my attempt! Now I have a  new mission to learn how to whistle! So we finally get to this little opening on the side of the mountain, and the kid leads us in! We step in, and its PITCH DARK! (I guess all the caves we visited before were tourist traps cause they were all lit with colourful lights and had a paved road!)  Thank goodness we had a flash light, cause there is no way we could have gone more then 3 meters. He brought us to the different caverns, and we still had to scale up and down through the little tunnels, all very much in its natural state with no enhancements what so ever. It would have been so much scarier if we didn't have this kid, cause he seriously knew his way through. The kid must have taken a liking to us... or maybe he does this for all the tourist, but inside the cave, he drew 4 pictures, to represent each of us, and made us sign it! Such a poignant moment! On the way back, he set off for the main road by foot, and Felix, the sweetie decided to offer the kid a ride on the back of his bike. He didn't even hesitate and swung his leg over and got ready for the ride back! I wish I got a picture of that!
The next cave we visited was insane... it claimed it was only 500 meters away... but we pedaled forever, and mostly uphill! Felix of course had to prove to me that by getting a mountain bike with gears, it was that much easier then my regular bike. For the record... despite the difficulty, I had a "basket" on my bike! We finally get to the cave, and  find to our delight there was a little fresh water pool.... sooooo refreshing! We met these Italian guys who said the caves were so worth it, despite it being super slippery. So in we went... and thankfully we met a guide in the pitch darkness of the cave. This man had hands of sandpaper... I have never touched human skin this rough! (Again, re-emphasizing the point how privileged a life we lead.) At one point as I was climbing up a bamboo ladder, and saw hordes of bugs in the lamplight...  I thought they were spiders. I also had to take deep breaths. But the guide said that they were locusts and that they were good to eat fried. I'll take his word for it!" This cave was insane... there was multiple chambers, but again pitch dark, and the floor was super slippery. If you're a little claustrophobic... this activity is not recommended.
The next day, we did as all do, when you visit Vang Vieng, which is to tube down the Nam Song River! If the weather was better it would have been very relaxing... but it was overcast, and after about 3 hours of floating, my finger tips and feet had lost sensation, but still 100% worth it. There are bars set up along the river edge where you can stop and have a cold beverage as well as just hang out and chill. =) Adrienne and Blian the Lion... you'd LOVE this place too.
(I seriously think you guys would LOVE this country!)
After tubing, we found a bar by the water edge and just hung out in hammocks and watched the sun set! That is totally my idea to the perfect end to a day in Laos.
I thought Vang Vieng was beautiful... but Luang Prabang is even better. They are both so different, yet only 8 hours by car separate them. Vang Vieng is more backpackerish and simple... where as Luang Prabang is sophisticated with charm. We have only been here for two days... but I think I could spend a week here!
Til next time, my friends. =)
BTW Off topic, but Felix and I were talking about the highlights of the last leg, and if you want a taste, we recomment the following itinerary... Bangkok, Thailand then Luang Prabang, Laos, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Phnom Penh, and then back to Thailand, and finish with the beaches. I guarantee this would be the trip of a lifetime. Guys, start saving!  

Tags: Adventures



mannnnnnnn... thanks for rubbing it in! i can picture it coz u described it sooo vividly! sounds amazing. we havent done anything, but each week or a couple of days we get plopped iwth 15cm of snow. so wish we didnt drive down today. the trek up with be brutal. wish i was lounging with u guys up in laos. PURE JEALOUSY! blian had to sms me to tell me abt this awesome blog. sooo sooo wish i could come!!!!

u guys are back so soon! are u excited? or dreading it? well, i am starting to really miss u guys. and mao jai is too. i keep telling her u guys will be back soon. she is getting REALLY naughty!

love AA xo

  AA Feb 13, 2008 5:51 AM

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