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Published: February 8th 2012
2nd Feb ’12 Phonsavan to Vang Vieng
We left a gloomy cloudy Phonsavan in a minibus that this time did have head rests but was tiny and packed full. We followed the less windy road that we travelled in on until which reached the town with a roundabout (whose name escapes me) where we turned left for the Vang Viang road. By now the sun was out and we started the twists and turns up into the dramatic mountains. Considering this is the main road between the cities it was even worse than the one we drove in on from LP. It is just a single carriageway and is full of pot holes, loose crumbling stone and lorries and buses come hurtling around the bends. Surprisingly we only saw one near miss, when a car tried to overtake us on a bend as a truck was coming down the other way. A great screeching of everyones tires and fortunately no one went over the edge of the precipice!
The scenery was even more striking on this stretch and as the weather was better we could see it in all its glory. It’s hard to describe just how high and
jagged the mountains are or how deep and green the valleys are but it was quite breath taking. Unfortunately we didn’t stop up in the mountain tops so we didn’t get any pictures and we were so busy hanging on we couldn’t take any from the van windows either!
The journey only took about 6 hours this time and by the time we got out of the minibus I think everyone was pretty dazed and knackered. Once again the bus station was out of town but there was a tuk tuk waiting to take you into the centre.
Our hotel is right at the end of the road and away from the very busy town centre which is probably a good thing as the place is packed with bars!
Once again the town is nothing like we imagined Laos would be, it’s a series of bars and restaurants full of kind of lounging areas where apparently you crash out while stoned and watch re runs of Friends or Family Guy and at 3-4ish when we arrived several people were already doing just that.
The biggest surprise so far is the list of rules on the hotel
room wall this time is very different! You must wash off all body paint before getting into bed or pay for the sheets and any damage due to intoxication must be paid for!! Nowhere does it say the usual you must be in your hotel room by 12 o’clock or the police will get you – how strange.
We found a really tasty Indian for tea and Howard ate too much – despite having not felt well all day. He watched the footie and I watched the ‘street entertainment’ and now I understand the rules. The place is full of young back packers wandering around in bikinis, shorts (no tops) covered in body paint yelling and shouting and either stoned or drunk! I have to keep reminding myself they are young each time I say look there’s another Nob!! This is SO completely different to the rest of Laos and they way you are expected to behave, I really would like to find out what the local people think.
We saw a sign outside a restaurant advertising Super High Bronie (mean't brownie) and i said oh wow a giant brownie let's get one of those......oh the
Up to the viewpoint
Tonight it was Howard’s turn D & V all night long (not related to the above statement lol).
3rd Feb ’12 Vang Vieng
And it’s raining a lot, the mountains are completely covered in clouds and the chances of getting our washing back today are remote.
Didn’t do a lot today due to illness! But we did have a walk down through the town past the cheap backpacker hotels, the older riverfront posher looking hotels and all the restaurants and bars that overlook the river and have the lounging areas with the large tv screens. We walked over a bamboo bridge to the small island which is home to the notorious bucket bars and bamboo dance floors. It was all dead during the day but you could imagine what it would be like it you happened to book one of the bungalows on the island thinking how tranquil it all looked with not a soul about!
We walked along the river after crossing another rickety old bridge further downstream, scooters cross over here as well and you have to kind of squash yourself against a thin strip of bamboo to let them get past.
From the viewpoint
We carried on until we came to the bridge at the far end of the town which joined Vang Vieng to a small village and crossed back over. All around us were staggering towering limestone cliffs, it truly is a beautiful area.
4th Feb ’12 Vang Vieng
Today Howard managed breakfast and was feeling much better so we decided to go out and see something, there was supposed to be caves you could visit but they were quite far off and it didn’t appear that there would be anyway to get back – Laos is good at getting you to places but not so good at getting you back again!
In the end we settled on going for a walk we crossed the bamboo bridge to the ‘island’ and followed a sign for the viewpoint and cave. The way wound through farmers fields marked by blue plastic bags on bamboo poles. It was really pretty and soon we were at the foot of a large rock, we paid our 10,000 kip and were pointed in the right direction. I had thought it would be a steep path winding round the rock but no it was a series
Cave in the mountains in the distance (but we didn't know that!)
of very dodgy bamboo ladders and then sections of really jagged rocks you had to climb over. We reached the cave entrance and Howard risked climbing down the sharp ant covered rocks to get into it, but there wasn’t much to see really. We clambered up higher and eventually had to call a halt, my ankle which had really improved and not given me any trouble was aching again and every sharp rock we went over I reckoned would be the end of it. So we perched on a rung, had a fantastic view and decided to call it a day and very carefully and slowly made our way back down.
At the bottom the guy who collected the fees said you go cave and pointed over to the left, sure enough there was another line of blue plastic bags so off we set. We walked for a long time and the farmers fields gave way to jungle, we carried on thinking surely we must be there soon, but it kept on going and we got closer and closer to the huge towering cliffs.
Finally we found the fee collection point and were given torches and waved in
the direction of the cave. Once more up the bamboo ladders, scrambling over and under rocks and we reached the cave mouth. Now this was a cave! It was pretty huge and had the most unusual formations on the floor that kind of looked like waves that had petrified.
We went on into the cave, which was a bit of a spooky experience as it was pitch black apart from our torch lights. At one point which switched the torches off and it was total darkness and silence.
All in all it was worth the 3 mile hike in the baking heat, the scenery was amazing and the cave pretty good too. We walked back through a herd of cows with their calves and then found a restaurant, collapsed in one of the lounging things and drank freshly squeezed orange shakes. A great way to end our stay in Vang Vieng (and we got our washing back!)
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