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Feb 16 - Caves and Bumpy Roads

LAOS | Wednesday, 16 February 2011 | Views [387]

With the sun finally out in Vang Vieng, I decided to rent a bike today and explore some caves, and I ended up playing bike mechanic too.  The first cave is a government cave and is nicely paved and lighted for people to walk in and admire the stalagmites.  It looked like an underwater scene with coral growing everywhere.  There are 120 stone steps leading to the cave offering for nice views from the top.  Below the cave is a small river gushing out and that water has been the cleanest I have seen in a long time.

The next cave is about 5km down a very bumpy and rocky dirt road.  The bike was not a mtn bike so I jostled to and fro and just held on.  This cave is in a beautiful jungle setting and just getting there made it worth it.  Learning the cave tour consists of crawling on one's belly and in tight places with a headlamp did not excite me.  I attempted another cave like this and started to panic.

It was in the return trip the bike chain fell off twice and with the bike having a chain guard, it made it tricky to reattach.  My hands were covered in thick grease from the chain but I was happy I was not stranded way out there.

This afternoon I will take a sunset boat ride.

Observations: Vang Vieng has been a tourist hotspot for at least the last 5 years and more and more hotels are being built in this area.  There are numerous cafes selling the same food and numerous shops selling the same supplies, and numerous outfitters selling the same trips.  Every place seems to offer bus tickets, rent bikes, and sell beer.  A fraction of the tourists are the ones who are not culturally sensitive because they walk around in practically their swim wear and have a beer in hand.  The locals must really think some of us are aliens because we look very bizarre.

I am surprised there is a language barrier between the establishments and tourists.  I would think by now they would have the basic language skills for lodging, food, and sights.  Here you get what is on the menu - no changes because they don't understand what was said.

Hope to post more photos at my next destination: Luang Prabang for 7 days.

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