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Published: November 11th 2005
The hussle and bussle we were glad to see the back of
We drive through the extremely thick smog and pollution. This was our last look at Hanoi and it's a relief. I didn't mind Hanoi but the pollution and the chaos was getting too much. Thinking back to how I had to scrub the filth from my feet just from walking around, I was somewhat glad to be leaving. Arriving at the airport an hour before our plane leaves usually would raise some anxiety but 10 mins we are through customs and begin killing time. After an extremely short flight and hassle free customs we are in Laos.
The "bible" claims Vientiane is perhaps the most relaxed capital city in the world. They could well be right. We were greeted by very friendly locals and were never hassled to take rides or to buy useless crap. Once in town things slowed down considerably. We have been on the road pretty hard and I feel more relaxed than ever. We organised a bus straight to Vang Vieng. We had a few hours to kill so we got a meal, the best I have had on the trip so far, then headed to Pha That Luang, the most important temple in Vientiane. Make
no mistake, there has to be hundreds of temples in Vientiane, this one is pretty impressive but it closes between 12 and 1pm... that just happened to be the hour we were there.
On the bus, we met a couple of girls from Ireland, Maria and Christine, and we have a good chat with them. The city gently fades away and large open rice fields take over. After a while more, the rice fields give way and gorgeous staggering mountains are the prime scenery. The land here is beautiful and it is the kind of scenery I was expecting in Vietnam. In fact the scenery here puts Vietnam to shame. We slowly wind our way through these fabulous mountains. The smell of fires lit by the locals in thier small road side dwellings of thached and old wooden houses reminds me of home. This was truly a land that was not fake, its completely genuine. We arrive in Vang Vieng after about 3 1/2 hours. The mountains surround this small river side town and it one of the most picturesque place I have been. We find a room and hit the street. The sound of TV after TV playing
friends reminded me how long it has been since I have watched TV and also reminds me how little I miss it. All these people, thousands of miles from home, watching a crap program like zombies seemed a little pathetic but the locals do it to get people in.
During our night we met up again with Maria and Christine and had a drink or two. We also met, Mike, a guy from Canada and Dan from Manchester. Manchester is NOWHERE NEAR LONDON as I was bluntly told after making the mistake of asking which part of London Manchester is in. Oops! But it was all good and we played pool on the worst table I have ever used, but it is the only one in Vang Vieng so beggars can't be choosers. After kicking back in this relaxed town chatting to all the friendly travellers and locals, my muscles relaxed and my body unwound. Laos is by far the best county we have been and we kinda wished we had been here all the time. Our original plan to head straight to Luang Prabang the next day was scrapped and we continued to party with the people.
The next morning, after we finally climbed our way out of bed, we had a quick meal, hired a couple of bikes and headed down to the Nam Song River. It is so beautiful there and we begin to really enjoy our time in Laos. We then headed to a small bar on the waters front. Crossing a very rickerty bridge that was about to fall in was all part of the vibe of this place. We found ourselves in hamocks, swinging and relaxing. After a while 2 girls from Israel join us, and Mike from Canada... again. We seem to keep running into Mike. Either its a small town or he is following us. Either way he is a good bloke.
Lazing in my hammock, sipping my beer and gazing at the spectacular views really made me wonder why we should even move from here. Relaxation at its peak! We did get to take part in one of Vang Vieng's most famous activites. Tubing!
Dropped off at the top of the Nam Song River, I squeeze my arse into an inflated tractor tube and let the current drag me away. With overhanging mountains one one side and
beautiful wooden bungalows on the other, this was heaven. No horns, no traffic, no pollution. Just silence broken occationally only by the sound of river, the odd traveller or two and loacals, water-side calling out "Beer Lao, Beer Lao". We felt tempted, nay, obliged to stop off at one of the many "bars", or rather small bambooed areas with flying fox's, swings and of course, Beer Lao. Beer in hand, we hop back into the tube and down the river we sail again.
It has been the best time we have had on the whole trip and we wish we could stay but we really need to get to Luang Prabang which we will tomorrow.
Thanks for the comments all. Please keep sending more, I loving reading them.
Untill next time, PEACE Camo!
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