Blogs from Vang Vieng, West, Laos, Asia

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Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng October 11th 2019

October 11 – Not such a great night of sleep last night. Becky and I both heard the dull thud of a slamming door several times last night, and Becky also had the pleasure of hearing someone throwing up at the same time. Somehow I missed that. Then at around 5:30 someone outside was on a megaphone talking, no idea what about, until 6:50am. Damn, that was annoying. We got up well before it ended, because what else could you do? Before breakfast, we had a problem with the safe and couldn’t get it open. I think it just wasn’t working for Becky. I went downstairs, told the front desk girl, she woke up the guy who woke better English, and he came up with me to see. It opened when I tried, but since he ... read more
Heading towards the caves
Nam Song River
Reclining Buddha in Elephant Cave

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng October 9th 2019

October 9 – Our alarms were set for 5am today so we could get to the giving of alms for the monks that takes place between 5:30-6:00am every day. The monks leave the monastery and collect rice from people on the streets that have come to donate, which is traditional in Buddhist culture. We did not participate but watched from the other side of the road to be respectful, unlike some tourists who were right up in their faces taking pictures in shorts and tank tops. We met a med student from a nearby village called Villi who wanted to practice his English with us. He was very nice and showed us a video with a light festival and boat race that is happening next week. It looks very cool but we won’t be able to ... read more
Giving of alms
Giving of alms
Giving of alms

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng November 17th 2017

Be advised that there is some description of irresponsible behavior in this entry. Do not read if you are easily offended. My initial plan after Luang Prabang was to take the bus east to Phonsavan, and then take another bus southwest to Vang Vieng and then finally to Vientiane to catch my flight back to Singapore. During my last day in Luang Prabang, I walked into a travel agency and asked about flights between Phonsavan and Vientiane, and the agent found a one-way ticket for less than half of what I could find online. So, I made a snap decision to head south to Vang Vieng first, then bus it to Phonsavan, then fly to Vientiane. This would reduce the time I would have to spend on buses. I contacted my friends from the slow boat ... read more
Gone Tubing
Neverland Bar
Official End Point of Tubing

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng November 16th 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 ... read more
Our guide, John
Glorious scenery
Karst mountains

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng November 15th 2017

Today we travelled north to Vang Vieng which by the look of it is the adventure capital of Laos. You can do anything from microlighting to rock climbing, zip lines to dirt buggies. We are not being that adventurous opting to kayak down the Nam Song River, not the Mekong as I think I mentioned earlier. Our accommodation at the Thavansouk Villas is right on the riverbank with a gorgeous view of river activities and the limestone karst mountains opposite. At present the river is so shallow that you can walk across, 3 feet deep, but with quite a current. The drive up was interesting through numerous villages, along Route 13 built by the French in the early 20th centur. Until recently it was a dirt track but don’t believe when they say it is now ... read more
Bride and groom outfits
Sunray pleated skirts
A new drew for New Year

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng September 11th 2017

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "neglected tropical diseases" (or NTDs) refers to a diverse group of communicable diseases that are prevalent in tropical and subtropical conditions and affect over one billion people annually, often in the most underdeveloped regions of the world. The term "neglected" is used to differentiate these diseases from the three communicable diseases that typically receive a much greater portion of international research and treatment funding: HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. While there is neither a precise nor exhaustive list of all neglected tropical diseases, as of 2017 the WHO had prioritized twenty such diseases: Buruli ulcers, Chagas disease, dengue and chikungunya, dracunculiasis, echinococcosis, yaws, foodborne trematodes, African trypanosomiasis, leischmaniasis, leprosy, lympathic filariasis, onchocerciasis ("river blindness"), rabi... read more
Interviewing village leader about stacking tires to prevent dengue
Ward in Vang Vieng District Hospital
Streets of Bon Phonsu

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng June 2nd 2017

We arrived at 1:30amcovered in grime from the bus and unfortunately the hostel we wanted was closed so we had to pay for a very scruffy hostel. A beds a bed I guess but let's just say we were not staying here another night! We made our way to Easy Go Hostel in the morning and were greeted by really friendly staff who immediately invited us to go tubing with them the following day. We went out to explore after we played a little PlayStation and crossed a bamboo bridge that went out into the mountains. We weren't sure whether it was the right direction as the path on our phones didn't seem to exist in real life - oh well! We were also overtaken by groups of screaming Chinese tourists on dune buggies who were ... read more

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng March 7th 2017

Leaving Phonsavan behind on the local bus ($95,000kip) I entertained myself on the eight hour journey by looking at the mesmerizing scenery of jagged limestone jungle covered mountains on the winding road. The winding road however also led to a number of children getting sick all around me. I again was entertained. Sounds strange, but you have to do something to occupy yourself on these long bus rides. My destination - Vang Vieng. The legendary backpacker party village all centered around tubing down the Nam Song River. Anything used to go here. You could do and get anything. That was until 22 tourists died last year and countless others before that. The Lao government torched all of the zip lines, jump platforms, and bars on the river. The party does still go down in town, but ... read more
screening
cliffs
cliffs2

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng February 13th 2017

So the guide book said that there used to be a problem here - adventure seekers, fuelled by alcohol and drugs, were drowning and breaking their necks jumping into the river when it was too shallow. However the Laos government had shut the bars down and it is now a family orientated adventure centre!!!! I think they may have missed a bar or 40. They still advertise tubing parties with a free bucket of whiskey! As night falls the bars along the river and throughout town start pumping out the rave music, only alleviated when the power fails (regularly). The quietest spot in town was the Irish bar. Decided against the kayaking, balloon rides, paramotoring (swooping over the town and power cables) and went for a cycle ride Instead. Have to admire the scenery, the mountains ... read more
The river front

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng January 31st 2017

Vang Vieng was once known for its hedonistic nightlife, drug fuelled raves and drunken backpackers drifting along from bar to bar sitting precariously on inflated inner tubes as they float down the river. Perhaps 20 years ago that image might have been a bit more attractive but luckily for us the town has worked hard to change its character and it definitely has a more sedate tone today. The change continues though, and the building of large hotels for rich tour groups may yet signal the end for the meagre backpacker. We ended up staying for four nights on the edge of town, far away from the few noisy bars which still operate until the "curfew" at 11pm. We started in the Laos Haven whose small swimming pool provided a place to cool off in the ... read more
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