A misty morning in Vang Vieng.
Vang Vieng is awesome! We've left now and headed south to Vientiane, which it good, because it would be very easy to get stuck in Vang Vieng for weeks! All the restaurants in the town are just like the one we slept at our first night in town, where they all have mattresses and pillows at the tables, so every meal is super comfortable. Also, every restaurant plays Friends episodes, from open to close. There is one restaurant that plays Family Guy and one that plays The Simpsons, but the rest are Friends, so when walking around town you hear "I'll be there for you" about every 5 minutes, as a new episode starts at one of the restaurants. I also liked the restaurants, because they had awesome pizzas and the pizza in Thailand just did not hit the spot. Another great thing, about Laos in general, is that every meal comes either with or in a baugette, which means you're filled up no matter where your day takes you.
So, our first day in Vang Vieng was spent relaxing and watching Friends and taking in the overall feel of the town. That night we booked a day trip for
The bridge to all the bars!
the following day involving trekking, caving, tubing, and kayaking. Then we walked through town and off onto a dirt road with neon signs for Smile Bar and Sunset Bar, so we followed the signs, which took us across a wooden bridge and down another long dirt road. There are multiple bars with makeshift dance floors, aka wooden platforms, lots of neon lights and booming music. Sunset bar, at the end of the dirt road, was the most low-key of all the bars, so we headed that way, where we found lots of pillows and hammocks to kick back in while enjoying a Beer Laos. This was also the bar that offered a section on the menu called 'Happy and Funny for You!' This section consisted of four options: Happy Tea, Happy Shake, Mushroom Tea, and Mushroom Shake. This began to explain all the dazed and confused looking people walking around town! What it did not yet explain was the amount of people in town either limping or bandaged up, but I'll get back to that later. So, we drank our beers and people watched with a bit more insight, but kept it low-key, since we had adventures planned for the
So day two in Vang Vieng, we woke up early for breakfast and of course Friends, then headed over to Green Discovery, our departure place for our trek. Now trek, apparently, does not have the same meaning to the Laotians as it did to us. We didn't really trek, just kind of walked. But since they called it trekking and I am amused by this, I will continue to call it that too. So, we trekked first to the Elephant Cave, where there was a stalagmite naturally formed into the shape of an elephant, and has become a sacred place and now has statues of Buddah. We then trekked to two caves, where we were given flashlights, and went crawling into the pitch black darkness. It was slippery and wet and full of stalagmites and stalactites and we just kept waiting for something terrifying to jump out at us, but we made it out safely. The second cave had lots of random dropoffs so we had to keep our flashlights on the ground ahead to avoid sudden holes. After these two caves, we trekked to a river where our guides were barbecuing shish kabobs over hot coals.
We had a lunch of shish kabobs, steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves, water and mini bananas for dessert. After lunch, we headed down to the river, which was soooo cold!, and hopped on tubes to go through the next cave. We each reveived headlamps and pulled ourselves by rope, through the cave, in our tubes. Cameron and I were grateful to have our underwater camera for this adventure! We tubed all the way in and then ventured around, crawling through caves and eventually back to our tubes. We all turned off our headlamps at one point, just to see how truly pitch black it was, and it was really creepy!
After tubing back out of the cave and returning our headlamps, the guide told us it was now time to, "trek back to the truck!" haha. We trekked for about 15 minutes, then settled down on the side of the road for another 10 minutes, until a truck showed up to pick us up and take us back down the river for kayaking. We got our kayaks and kayaked down the river, past all these people tubing and drinking at the bars on the river and swinging off
Our delicious lunch!
of zip lines and the bandages and limping all started to make sense. It was a long day of trekking, tubing, caving and kayaking, so we took it easy that night. We went to the restaurant with the Family Guy episodes, where I ate an entire small pizza myself, then went to bed early, with plans of tubing the next day and seeing what kind of injuries we could inflict upon ourselves.
Around noon on day three in Vang Vieng, we rented some tubes, got dropped off up river, and hit the first bar with our Irish and Canadian friends. It starts out with a couple of cocktails or beers, but by the second or third bar, you are inevitably on to the most common alcoholic mixtures in Southeast Asia...the buckets!! These are literally the same buckets we all took to the beach as children to make sand castles out of, but this time there's loads of liquor, mixers and straws in it instead. I stuck with vodka orange juice myself, but some of the concoctions get pretty crazy, including liquors that are actually illegal in the states. The bars are riverside and they've got people throwing ropes out
to you, pulling you in and taking your tube, then you climb up the steps and the bars are open, people are dancing and there are free mini bananas hanging from all the posts. Then, you climb up some stairs or makeshift stairs on a tree to a platform at the top, where you zip line down and into the water. It is a blast!! It's a day of tubing from bar to bar until you cannot tube any longer. The last bar is pretty much a wooden platform next to a huge muddy ditch, so everyone somehow ends up in the ditch, which is slippery and nearly impossible to get out of. Once more back in the river to rinse off, then we returned our tubes and headed back to shower, before going out for the night. It was actually the most ridiculous day and I think most of the wounds are from the mud ditch, while most of the bandages and limping are from the zip lines.
We woke up today all moaning and groaning in pain and have become the limping, bandaged people we've been making fun of for the past two days. Luckily we had
Tubing to the next bar...
a 1:30 PM bus booked to Vientiane, so we enjoyed one last breakfast and a few more Friends episodes, before heading out of town. I loved Vang Vieng, but another day of tubing may have killed me. We're going to relax and recover here before our flight to Hanoi, Vietnam on the 8th. So for now, be well friends, and I am off for a much needed massage...
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