Asia | South East Asia | Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) | Mekong | Vang Vieng – caned moments of lucidity
Vang Vieng is a gorgeous place to explore, a really sleepy town, lots of travellers but it doesn’t feel to full. It has plenty of guesthouses, a thriving local market, lots of kids on bikes and nestled amongst the mountains lots of caves inhabitated by benign spirits.
Anyway me, my water and my book set out for a walk along the mekong. and the river is stunning. I met a local man having a smoke and had my first toke of laos grass. Fairly rough but i spent an hour watching people tube down the river. Then using a fairly poor map i set off upstream heading for the only bamboo bridge in town and found my cave.
3,500 Kip and i got a guided tour, and the cave was beautiful. A bit how i imagine the bottom of icebergs to looklike. Smooth and undulating curves, prickly stalactites, stalagnites forcing themselves out of the ground and the constant drip drip of water.
The cave twists and turns, the light at the entrance gets smaller and smaller until i was left in blackness. Deep, dark total blackness. Scrabbling over rocks, avoiding holes by the flickering light of a candle. Deeper and deeper into the earth. It all got a bit much, the idea of a mountain above me, so me and my guide stopped, blew out the candles and had a smoke.
it was really quite lovely, 2 orange glows punctuating the darkness, before the trek out. A wrong turn obviously, (just to freak me out slightly more) and then in the distance, light. Small but distinct. Carving its way into the blackness, then getting bigger and bigger until i could make out shapes, shadows and the view beyond.
Coming out was a great experience. The expanse of the valley spread before us. It was really quite breathtaking. I sat and watched the light turn pink as the day lumbered into the evening and then walked back into town as the full moon rose to light my way.
By the time i got back, vang vieng looked different, so i explored the back streets, got approached by a man on a bike and furtively bought some smoke. A quick trip rizla shopping, hit my room, one smoke and ot was all over. I think the combination of a 5 am start, 8 km walk and laos grass was enough. I thought about food but settled instead for sour cream pringles, fruit mentos and water. settled back and dream’t Laos dreams.
The 10th was a bit more energetic. Breakfast at the bakery – fruit muesli, coffee (gorgeous coffee) and then i hired a bike and took me and the grass out for a spin. I sat by the Mekong and had one of those caned moments of lucidity where i realized that i smoke too much and that its probably not good for me, my health or my social life.
So i made a little bonfire, watched the paraphenalia burn and resolved to start afresh. I think travelling is full of moments of self reflection. I guess its a combination of too much time on your hands plus the fact that when your surroundings change your habits stand in stark contrast. It has been good looking at what i do with time, money and my body.
Anyway, back on the bike and the roads ariound Vang Vieng are a real joy to cycle.