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Balloon Flight & caves in Vang Vieng

LAOS | Sunday, 16 December 2012 | Views [1274]

30th November 0212

We take a mini bus  6-7 hours to Vang Vieng. Again a very mountainous, but scenic route.

We get a nice room at the Phonsevanh Guest House 60,000 kip (4.80p) just on the outskirts of town. The town sits in a small plain, surrounded by mountains and most tourists come here to float down the river on an inner tube.  It's quite small and very touristy,  but has a really nice feel about it, we know we are going to enjoy it here and there's plenty of things to do.

We start by hiring some bikes and cycling to the local caves, from here we follow signs to some more, less touristy caves, which are over fields and dirt tracks, on the way, a child appears from nowhere, and starts leading the way for us. The caves are over the other side of a big stream. We cross on a very dodgy bridge, made out of a couple of bamboo poles. The caves themselves, have some bamboo ladders to help you get in and out. My brother-in-law, Alan (a cave and mine rescue member), would have had a nervous breakdown if he'd seen us. I'm wearing flip-flops and we are following a young child down slippery bamboo ladders into... we don't know where!  These caves were OK, but not overly big or exciting, so we tell the boy, via sign language as he doesn't speak a word of English, that we have seen enough and are going to go back out.  When we surface, we find that the young boy does know English, - "Tip the guide" were his words. Cheeky little sod. He had been as miserable as sin and we had already had to pay to enter the cave anyway. We wouldn't have minded tipping him if, a, he had of been smiley and pleasant and b, he hadn't asked for the tip in the first place, then, when Matt offered him the 2000 kip he asked for 10,000  (He didn't get it!).

We carry on cycling across fields, to get on to a road. We know there is a waterfall some where!  As we are cycling up the road,( I say road, it's actually more of a dirt track), we see a sign for a village and a 20 minute mountain walk, so decide to do this instead. The village is one of the very basic villages, wooded huts, chickens and pigs roaming free and dirty, happy kids everywhere.  We are greeted by a group of about 6 kids, one of which takes 10,000 kip from us, entrance fee.  We then start on our walk up a very steep hill, we are being guided by 2 small boys (aged about 8 or 10, I guess, they are always older than they look), here we go again we thought.  But what a pleasure these two chaps were. Shy at first, we ask their names and gradually they become more smiley. They don't speak English, but try to communicate (unlike our other miserable, little chap) and are thrilled when we get to the top and let them use our monocular and camera.  The views were amazing, (see the photo's).  If the boys hadn't of come with us, we would have actually missed the very highest point of the mountain. On the way back down, Matt was reciting the alphabet and counting with them.  It really was a very special walk.  We tipped them 10,000 kip (80p) each at the end, their faces were a picture as they ran ahead giggling. We were wondering, if they would  have to give it to the money their parents, (as these really are 'poor' kids), but  as we rounded the corner, we saw them coming back from the local shop, eating sweets and drinking fizzy pop, it was great!

We have decided to treat ourselves to a balloon flight.  It is supposed to be the cheapest place (in the world) to do one from and at 53.00p each, why not?  We are going to do a morning flight. We are ready to be picked up at 6 a.m. The transport arrives at 6.45, Laos time - not impressed, as we have now missed sunrise, which was the whole point! It was the best 45 minutes of our holiday! The weather was perfect, the scenery stunning, soaring over the mountains, paddy fields and river, what a brilliant way to start the day!

4th December - time to move on the Vientiane, the capital.

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