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Published: February 22nd 2011
Vang Vieng...if you have never been on a backpacker trip to South-East Asia this place will tell you nothing...if you have stopped here, this may be a great souvenir....but what about a family stop...
We arrived by the slow boat to Luang Prabang. Next stop was Vientiane. Here arises a slight problem for anybody without the will to go on a plane....Luang Prabang to Vientiane is a minimum of 8 hours on the road at his best...but rather 10 easy hours. Put it simply, we had no intention to punish Leslie with 10 daytime hours on seriously bending roads...bare in mind that we had no intention to do it ourself too.
Luang Prabang to Vang vieng is 5 hours by minivan. In Europe, you call this rather a mono-space car filled to the max than a minivan. A driver, 10 people, and 10 hours on amazing roads...if you consider that not a single strecht of the road was more than 200 meters straight! We loved it...why...first because Leslie did not get sick. We had a huge stock of plastic bags...just in case...but instead, he enjoyed the first 90 minutes...slept 2 hours...enjoyed one more hour...and was clearly not happy with
the last 30 minutes in the dark...when are we arriving? The scenery was simply amazing!
Vang Vieng is a little city along the Nam Song river, with 30,000 people leaving here. Up to here, nothing special. The place is also surrounded by caves. So what makes it so special you are going to ask me? Well, something like 6km of the Nam Song river have been turned over the last few years in a true "let's get drunk till we are young" experience. The polite way to qualify this is a simple world....tubing!
You can "launch" just after waking up...or rather after lunch a few kms up river from Vang Vieng. The basic experience is simple....you lounge in a tractor wheel down the river back to town...simple concept.
The best part is that over the years...bars have been popping on the banks of the Nam Song River...all this including slides, trazan ropes, etc....plus at least 20 "places were you get provided" with BeerLao and a wide range of other drinks in bucket styles.
Let put it simply...if Leslie was not with us, we would have join in the fun! We arrived in town by 7pm...with half
of the young toursits drunk already... Even Leslie had a laugh...if not a slightly uncomfortable one!
We found a nice place where to stay for the night...30usd for a "nearly" river view with hot water...we shared a dinner...ok, put it simple, we didn't find nice food in Vang Vieng, cheap it is, either international or Lao, good it was not!
And that evening, we booked three of us for a morning of kayaking and fun on the Nam Song river. Official plan is half day do run from 9.30am to 1.30pm...too late for us to catch the last bus to Vientiane. But there was only three of us for the kayaking....tubing is way cheaper (if you don't drink)...and way later in the day. When we told the guy we wanted a pick up at 8am, he look at us...isn't it too early....guess what, Leslie doesn't drink yet...period!
So breakfast along the river...pick up at 8am...3 of us plus a guide. This is a very leisurely ride..."rapids"...well....we put our camera away for safety...but let say the river that due to the low level of the water, the rapids are rather a slalom between stones! By mid-course you reach
the tubing launch. This is like hitting a huge bar....just 3 hours before the opening. Wow was the word of Leslie...all those Tarzan ropes...the slides...this must be seriously cool....young man...it is...once you'll be 18! We visited on top of this a cave. It is low water season, so not much adventuring. By 11.30 am, we were back to the room for a good shower. This was followed by a Lao lunch (average), a bus ride...full of foreigners, and a late afternoon arrival in Vientiane.
For info, 2 young people died on the Nam Song river while tubing in 2010...being drunk can be fun, being alive at the end of the day is better. What was more shocking was the price of the drinks in those bars...15,000kip for a BeerLao...wow...expensive! A last note to our travelling friends to South-East Asia...it makes me want to make an entry on Khao San one day...went there twice, found the place outrageously expensive for what you drink or get in your plate...guys...if you want cheap, you are simply in the wrong place...here you get cheap and bad quality...the locals (and we share this with them) love cheap and high quality...you just have to venture
few hundred meters out of the backpackers traps!
Next entry is coming soon, pics are uploaded but I still have to write the text. I spent all day today in Cairo...another entry to come in a few days...impressive time!
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