After getting on a bus in Luang Prabang and making our way through windy roads in the mountains of Lao nowhere (and feeling rather sick as a result), we finally got to Vang Vieng - a little town by the river with lots of exciting things to do. Nice one!
First thing of course, we ran straight to the river front and got ourselves a room in a newly built guesthouse with still fresh paint on the walls (read: nice and clean). Score!
Next thing to do was to shower and to find some hammocks. It so happens that Vang Vieng has lots of bars just by the river with plenty of these beauties hanging from every bamboo tree. Score again!
After a lazy hammock time, we decided to get some massages (don't you just hate me right now?) ;o) Full body Lao massage sounded just like what we needed! So, we lied down and subjected ourselves to all the kneading and stretching that comes with it. It was all very peaceful until one point, when Mary's masseuse decided to say "take my ar*e!". " Score...??" I thought. We would have ignored it, being half conscious anyway,
but she quickly started to apologise and corrected herself by saying "take my arm, take my arm!". That's it, she did it for me at that point - I got my giggle attack and started crying with laughter. So much for the peaceful atmosphere... I made all of them giggle for good 10 minutes. There's nothing better than having a good laugh though. I thought it was a good opportunity to tell the "ar*e" lady that we can teach her some English in return for her teaching us some massage... Not a bad skill to have, right?
When the giggles finished, we headed to the main road to meet with my London flatmate who happened to be in Vang Vieng too. The world does seem small when things like that happen!
I guess another highlight of Vang Vieng is tubing and caving (due to the very nearby river). Tubing itself is a slightly different concept from the London one - you still get wet, the only difference is not because of people's sweaty armpits but the river water, so much more bearable ;o) The means of transportation is different too - instead of finding the right platform and
jumping on a crammed train, you make sure you get to the right river bank and jump on an inner tube and off you float...to the nearby bar handily situated just by the river of course. You get pulled in, whether you want it or not, and that's how your next hour gets by: drinking and socialising. After you get back on your tube, you float for a few minutes, only to be sucked into yet another place, which again, is right on the river bank - how can you not stop by??!! After a few similar stops, a lot of tubers end up floating half-consciously, holding a beer bottle in one hand and trying to steer with the other one. A rather entertaining sight. Unfortunately, the last stretch is a long one without any bars on the way, so you have to paddle with your arms to make the bloody tube move and you are doing that for at least an hr or so. We were caught in the middle of a downpour but it was an amazing experience to be in the middle of a river, floating on rubber inner tubes and laughing our heads off (you always
make sure you are entertained!). After the downpour, we got to see one of the most amazing rainbows - ahhh, bless...
Another thing we managed to experience there was our first proper monsoon storm - take a look at the picture - it was more than a thunder. I thought I'd go flying myself!!! That kinda makes me wonder if it's pure coincidene or do I attract natural disaters???
One thing I have to mention about Vang Vieng is that this place doesn't really exist... It is a very bizarre creation that Lao people devised for backpackers. Just rto give you an example: every single bar in town has a least 5 tv sets and is equipped with beds with cushions for people to pass out on and get themselves hypnotised by yet another episode of...Friends. Yes, they show Friends in almost every bar! It can seriously damage your social skills as most hypnotised travellers just stop talking and that's what I mean when I say the town doesn't exist... It's just not there no matter what!!!
Altogether, Lao has been a slow-paced jorney in a country full of dramatic landscapes and gentle people. Sometimes, it was
too slow but that was its beauty. Somehow I'm worried that with the floods of new backpackers, there will be more Vang Viengs cropping up, and it's not a good thing!
Next stop was Vientiane, the capital, but only to catch a bus to Hanoi, Vietnam. Vientianne was rather ugly and pretty smelly and so I don't feel it deserves an entry in my blog.
The journey to Hanoi was straight from hell - 24 hrs on a local bus... Let's put it down to an experience, shall we? Oh, and the border crossing in Vietnam probably deserves a seperate chapter - more next time though! Take care and it's been lovely reading emails from you!x
W koncu mam chwile, zeby napisac cos po polsku! Niedawno wyjechalam z Vang Vieng - malego miasteczka nad rzeka z mnostwem rzeczy do robienia. Ciagle Lao oczywiscie. Bylo piekielnie goraco, ale zawsze mozna bylo wskoczyc do rzeki i sie troche ochlodzic, wiec bylo znosnie. Mamy tez pore monsunowa, co oznacza, ze codziennie, przynajmniej przez godzine, leje deszcz, ale to leje tak, ze doslownie minuta na zewnatrz i jest sie kompletnie przemoknietym!
Kilka dni temu robilismy tzw.
tubing, tzn. plywanie po rzece na oponach :o) Po drodze sa przybrzezne bary, gdzie sie wyskakuje i pije drinki, odpoczywa, poznaje nowych podroznikow i z powrotem wskakuje sie na opony, zeby plynac dalej. Jedyny minus jest taki, ze nastepnego dnia strasznie bola ramiona, bo prad rzeki nie jest az tak silny, zeby caly czas niosl te opony, wiec trzeba zawijac ramionami, zeby plynac troche szybciej.
W drodze powrotnej zastala nas ulewa, ale tutaj deszcz jest oczywiscie mile widziany ;o)
Oprocz plywania na oponach, wybralysmy sie z moja podrozniczka Mary do jaskini, gdzie rowniez plynie rzeka, po czym wracalysmy do miasteczka w kajakach, znowu przystajac w pobliskich barach.
Natsepny przystanek: Wietnam. Niestety zeby sie tam dostac, musialam spedzic 24 godz. w autokarze, ktory pozostawial wiele do zyczenia! O wszystkim w nastepnym odcinku :o)
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