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Published: November 17th 2017
No worries about the kayaking. A few little rapids made it a teensy bit exciting as we followed the guide. Nothing like white water rafting. I only got splashed at the front a couple of times and we ran aground once avoiding the long tail boats coming flat out up river towards us.
The scenery was spectacular with the vertical limestone Karst mountains rising vertically on one side of us and lush green bush on the other. We passed two or three large Hotel construction sites on the way down to cater for the rapidly increasing tourist trade from China and South Korea.
Occasionally we were accompanied by groups of young backpackers who went much faster than us, leapt in the water, or fell out, or who were chilled out ‘tubing’ with the flow.
There was a problem with drinking in all night bars along a stretch of the river with young tourists being injured or dying because they leapt in tubes whilst drunk or stoned or dived into the river with dire results. The Laos Government closed them all down in 2012, implemented a more ethical tourism plan with input from the locals, as well as trying
to encourage more responsible behaviour from the back packer crowd. We only passed one crowded bar with loud music. We stopped and had a refreshing swim at an area where people yahooed as they zipped precariously through the trees above us. It looked, and sounded, great fun.
A short walk took us to a cave where you can tube for 200 m inside it. We just watched. The bamboo bridge has to be rebuilt every year as it is washed away in the rainy season.
Three hours after we started we washed up like a couple of drowned rats, on the beach below our bungalows.
A curiosity -
Driving into Vang Vieng you cross a wide pace of gravel and tarmac which turns out to be an airstrip used by Air America, a covert airline set up by the CIA who decided it needed a covert air operation to support American policies in SE Asia in 1955. This strip was called Lima Site 6. Have a look here at a blog by John Saboe who has done some research on it. Very interesting. http://fareastadventuretravel.com/travel-ideas/air-americas-legacy-laos-lima-site-6-airstrip/
In the cool of the morning before kayaking we explored
And a calm river
the immediate area, walking SW along the river to cross at the car, motorbike and pedestrian swing bridge, walked NE along the opposite bank from our accommodation to the foot and motorbike bridge, crossed back to arrive in the middle of the town.
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