Published: March 17th 2009March 2nd 2009
Oh my god have we died and gone to hell? What on earth is this place? I guess no-one elses guidebook says "Please do not walk around in bikinis or with your shirt off because it is offensive to the culture and religion of your host country". Vang Vieng was like Ibiza or Magaluf or some other tourist hellhole of synthetic drugs and vodka red-bull vomiting tossers. What kind of disrespectful A holes treat a country like their own lack of self-respect? God damn, 'let's get a bus out of here now' was a very real thought on arrival. Jesus!
Bars line the streets of the small town with 24/7 Friends on the TV, or 24/7 Simpsons or Family Guy, or Nicolas Cage films or something else. Okay well we did enjoy sitting down and eating in front of Family Guy. But well over half the people in this place were stumbling about in a saucer-eyed dreamworld of booze, yaa baa and ecstacy. Where are the relaxed joint-smoking hippies?
How did all these chavs ever save up enough money to come out here?
Luckily we didn't have time to stay too long, but we ended up having a
great time the following day regardless. We signed up for a day-trip to see some nearby caves, do a couple of hour trek in the jungle and then kayak down the Mekong on the tubing-route. Best of all, though this would usually be a strange thing to say, it was just us on the tour. We had visions of being surrounded by gaunt hungover tattooed chavs like the ones Dom had to endure the company of briefly in Bangkok ("yeah I wuz bangin this bird who was speakin all Thailandish or whateva they calls it and 'er mate comes ova an I called up my boy an we all had a gang bang mate, safe!").
The caves were pretty impressive, but after doing hardcore caving in some of the most beautiful, ugly, smallest and largest caves in the world it's hard to be impressed by staligtites anymore. But a dog did come caving with us which was a new experience! The trek was nice too, and we got to know our guide, who guessed Laura's age at 30 and nearly cried when he got bitten by an ant. We got to teach him some English pronunciation and later got
him drunk and emotional about his ex-girlfriend with one beer!
At the end of the walk we got to float into a cave on an inner tube which was great fun, though Laura was a bit freaked out by the fact that if it had started to rain we would have died, ignoring Doms reassurance that this was Asia in the dry season and it hadn't rained there for months! and our guide was terrified by 'dragons and crocodiles hiding under the water' (he was a suspersticious guy; he said he wouldn't eat raw meat or fish because it means ghosts can eat you). The kayaking was the highlight though, no question about it.
From the point where you start kayaking, you can't hear yourself think because of the music blasting from several bars by the river, incidentally also covered in guide-distracting woman "in" bikinis with stuff scrawled all over each other in marker pen. But once you get past the first ten bars or so it calm down completely. It starts to get how you may have imagined it in the first place - a bar every now and again, but generally just floating down the river
splashing your guide and watching the locals fish. When we finally stopped at a quiet bar for a drink, they had a rope swing which must have been about 30 feet high. Dom had the time of his life whilst Laura watched.
Then we made a quick exit in a Westerly direction. We made a booking with the Gibbon Experience on the Thai border and tried our best to get there on time, despite a lack of connections which gave us a quick (too quick) stop in Luang Prabang, where we had a hotplate distaster in a restaurant on the Mekong - too much food! And our cooking skills with the hotplate weren't the best. LP had a great night market and we bought a few little gifts for people and the next day got on a bus all excited like.
p.s. Sorry for lack of quality photos for this blog but Dom refused to take his camera out as it might have gotten wet, and the disposible camera we used took embarrasingly bad photos!!
There are more photos below