Published: July 21st 2011May 28th 2011
What was I letting myself in for? Was I going to love it or hate it?
From Luang Prabang there is a road. Not any road though. A single lane mountain road with more twists than a curly-wurly. The views in the highlands were terrific but my utmost concentration was needed not to be sick. Every other turn seemed to be a 180 degree corner just like the Monaco Grand Prix. On the way, there were villages perched on the sides of sheer drops. Hundreds of children roamed the road. One child of only two at most was feet away from speeding vehicles. I was nervous every time we got too close. At one point, a cockerel was avoiding the traffic in the other direction. In its haste it did not realise our minibus heading straight for it. Bang! The head hit the underside of our bus. All I saw in the rear-view mirror was it flapping with a flopping head. I laughed, as did the driver, although the girls behind were disgusted. "Different tastes for different people."
I arrived in the evening to find the sun falling behind the nearby limestone mountains. A nice peaceful way to have
Not a bad place to stop off for a break between towns
dinner. Peaceful is not a word one uses often in Vang Vieng, although the "Tubers" were nowhere to be seen. Eventually the noise levels rose and the town had a party in full swing. I felt like I was on a skanky Mediterranean island. Guys and girls just in trunks and bikinis respectively, glow paint, lack of footwear and a lot of alcohol. These people had no shame at all. Who was in that category? None only than the Las Vegas guy from the boat trip and the party boys. Oh dear! On the other hand, we were in the right situation to get along. Drinking games were aplenty as was the fun. Top night with a bunch of lads I initially strayed away from.
Many don't see them but Vang Vieng has many caves. "Blue Lagoon" was recommended to me. I rented a motorcycle and navigated my way through the village "roads" (mostly rocks and gravel) outside of town. It was very incredibly hard to ride and I almost fell off half a dozen times. Fun though! Eventually I got to the cave and climbed the steep slope to the entrance. The cave was large. All I had
was a torch and no guide. I descended into darkness. For the first half I felt safe. A family had led the way. They only were visiting the reclining Buddha inside. The rest was up to me. I climbed, jumped and slipped on the damp limestone. Eventually it was pitch black. I have never been so terrified in my life. I was all alone in a huge empty cave in Laos. Or was it empty? Who knew? Would anyone find me if I hurt myself? There were some shear drops into the centre of the Earth in places. My heart was about to jump out of my chest when I saw a huge spider with my torch. All was well when I was warmed by the midday sun.
It was called "Blue Lagoon" natural swimming pool just outside the cave. Really refreshing just after my hike. There was a five metre high tree to jump off. I jumped pencil style. I must have gone four metres deep. I reached the surface and I had the biggest headache ever. My ears wouldn't stop popping. It hurt big time. This made me bed ridden for two days. It felt like litres
of water were stuck in my head. I could not hear properly and I had constant pain. I found myself acting like many of the hungover "tubers": lying down in the custom made restaurants watching episode after episode of Friends and Family Guy. I had not even touched a drop yet I looked worse than them. Actually, not as bad as one bloke. When I arrived at the cafe this guy was lying down, passed out. He had looked like he had been there for a while and he did not flinch for a good few hours. Another group of boys stayed for an hour or two and as they were about to leave they looked at this zombie and exclaimed, "Mike, where the F**K have you been?!" Apparently, this was their travel buddy they had not seen this guy for 24 hours and he had no recollection of where he had been. When he tried to leave he stumbled in a zig-zag fashion out of view. Anyhow, about myself, my illness cut short my time in Vang Vieng and did not get to experience Tubing. That is the one thing I went to go for and I did not
get the chance to give it a go. Shocker!
To answer my earlier question, I ended up both loving and hating it!
P.S. Sorry Lucy C
There are more photos below