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Published: November 29th 2009
Sunset over the Mekong
Been there, done that, got the t-shirt!
We get dropped off at the bus station in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Driving through town in our open air shared taxi we were thinking this is more Little Snoring than London. As capital cities go this has to be the quietest, most laid back one on the planet. Even the taxi drivers don't toot their horns or tell you their life story.
We landed on our feet with the Mixay Guesthouse as breakfast was included in the price and turned out to be curry ... Paul was in heaven.
Our second stroke of luck was turning right out of our guesthouse and finding the sun setting over the Mekong River. Bars galore along the riverside 'beach' lured us in and we thought it would be rude to say no to a Beer Lao or two. Experiences like this are why we are traveling.
The relaxed atmosphere of the capital got to us and we spent 4 days doing little other than drink smoothies, and 4 nights doing little other than sitting by the river drinking Beer Lao and eating freshly caught fish still swimming in its bowl and then grilled in front of us.
See told you!
Us in our new purchases.
Vieng was the total opposite! A town of about 25,000 people (20,000 of those were tourists) but completely frenetic, packed with activities and bars ... think Ibiza, but river instead of sea! The bars are either blaring music or playing endless loops of 'Friends' episodes to entertain the floaters after a hard days tubing.
The pull of Vang Vieng is the infamous 'tubing' experience. Basically you hire a tractor inner tube, get driven 3km out of town and dropped off at the 'first bar'. It is 11am at this point and you get your first free Tiger Whiskey of the day ... clearly you then need a beer to wash that down. You then jump on your tube and float the 10 yard to bar number 2. Repeat the process for 10 more bars, occasionally using their rope swings to jump into the river.
At bar 11 things change a little as it is at least 250 yards from bar 10 and instead of rope swings it is mud volleyball. Later on rope swings are exchanged for slides, much easier to stay on after numerous beers! Finally it starts to get dark and you realise the likelihood of
Before too many beers.
A nice relaxing float along the Nam Song river.
getting your deposit back is disappearing along with the sun. Sometime after 6pm we stagger out of the river and drip our way through town to return our tube. Immature? Yes. But we had a great time and made friends along the way.
Luang Prabang was next on the agenda and after a 6 hour bus journey we were delighted to find that it was just like Vientiane. With an 11.30 curfew in the town we had an enforced chance to give our bodies some R&R. Again we drifted easily into a lazy lifestyle and spent our days meandering streets and markets.
In an attempt to drag ourselves out of this stupor we booked a day kayaking down the Nam Khan river ... with a bit of elephant riding thrown in. The sun came out mid morning and we kayaked for 15km giving us our first real sun-tan since leaving home.
And then it was time to move on from Laos ... places to go, people to see.
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