Asia | South East Asia | Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) | Mekong | Vang Vieng – Vang Vieng
Well, I’ve arrived in one of those ‘you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave’ places!
We arrived in Vang Vieng on Monday afternoon – it looked dismal! Very small, loads of mud and nothing going on. So we thought – we’ll stay here for a night and carry on to Luang Prangban in the morning – yeah right…! Met a whole crowd of fantastic people that night ended up dragging myself off to bed at 4 am. At nine the next morning I was woken up and persuaded to go caving… hung-over, tired and not completely with it, I agreed….!
Little did I realise that what I had agreed to was 11 hours of climbing up sheer rock and mud faces, swimming in caves and ending up tubing down the Mekong River in the dark! I was completely unprepared – wrong shoes, no swimming costume etc! It was a blast! There were 15 people on the tour and it was a real bonding session. I ended up putting my sandals in my backpack and doing the whole thing bare feet – not recommended. It was easier to slide down the mountains on my backside than to worry about falling down. I have some great pictures of me covered from head to toe in thick red mud! In fact I think Wellington boots should be on the packing list if anyone plans to come here – mud, mud, and more mud!
We made it to the river at about 7pm to discover that a Japanese guy had drowned that morning – needless to say that didn’t deter us. It is fantastic to sit in a tube and float down the Mekong – so great that 14 of us went back the next day to do it again. It is pretty safe if you are a confident swimmer – but can be a bit hairaising in places. Apparently the guy who drowned wasn’t a good swimmer and even wearing a life jacket didn’t save him. Very sad – the Japanese Embassy was here the next day to sort everything out – what a way to end a trip!
The people I’d travelled from Vientiane with have all left for Luang Prangban already – but I’m having such a good time. Yesterday was a scream – I had very drunken directions the previous night to get to this cave and swimming pool – basically they go like this… walk down to the river, catch a boat across the river, hail a tractor and get the tractor to head to the big tree. The tractor will cross another river and then stop. You then have to walk the next kilometre to the big tree, climb the big tree and jump in to the pool. Well, surprise, surprise the directions were totally right! This is Laos!
I just love this place – it is so beautiful! The mountains are amazing and the caves… I’ve run out of adjectives… It is very rural and the only tourists here are hard core backpackers – great people. The only draw back is that you can’t move in this place without someone trying to sell you opium or ganja, they even have stuff on the menu at restaurants… don’t order the Yummy Yum Yum Milkshake, ’cause you’ll get more than you bargained for!
I have been trying to leave for the last 2 days – I’m hoping to be on my way on Sunday, ’cause that’s when the crowd I’m hanging out with are heading off to Vientiane.
Thanks for all the emails… it’s so great to hear everyones news! Even though I’m having a blast it’s really great to hear familiar stuff… sometimes you get a bit tired of always meeting new people and going through the ‘so where are you from… how long have you been travelling…’ normal travelling conversation….