Laos Lout - Vang Vieng

Trip Start Nov 26, 2004
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Trip End Dec 11, 2004


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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Friday, December 3, 2004

OK, OK, I know these travelogues are getting longer but man I just got so much to tell ya! The things I'm doing, the people I'm meeting, the places I'm seeing... You guys have gotta do this if you haven't already!

So Luang Prabang firmly behind us, we pressed on south through Laos. I hopped on a mini-van with a few of the English girls I'd met on the slow-boat. A crazy lot but a good laugh! Route 13 takes you all the way to Vientiane, the capital, and beyond towards the Cambodian border and what a route it is! Not only is it riddled with potholes but it's far from straight. It's like one big roller coaster lasting for 6 hours between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng! But, wow, what scenery! I can't tell you enough how visually stunning this country really is. I thought Luang was good. It just gets better and better...

Route 13 has also been the target of some terrorist attacks over the last few years. Mainly public transport has been targeted (any vehicles owned by the government basically!) Thankfully our mini-van wasn't one of them! However, I couldn't help noticing all these men, and some boys, carrying AK-47's slung over their shoulders staring at us intently as we drove past! Hell, I even saw a rocket launcher over this one guy's back! We just looked as friendly as we could as we passed them. Thankfully made it to Vang Vieng alive!

The Vang, as I like to call it, is a bit of a backpackers haven. It lies on the Nam Kong river which is overshadowed by breathtaking limestone mountains. It really is quite a sight. Vang Vieng has a growing tourist industry which is a shame as I'm sure it will be spoilt in years to come. The main strip (a bit of a mini Khao San Rd) is filled with bar/restaurants where you can sit and watch movies all day, sipping on milkshakes (some special ones!) or smoking weed.

The main attraction though, which is what I was most looking forward to, is the tubing! Tubing basically consists of sitting in a large inner tube, floating along the Nam Kong, taking in the sights and sounds whilst supping on a Beer Lao. I have to say I have never been so content in my life as I was the day I spent floating on that river. It starts with a Tuk-Tuk ride a few kms north out of town where you jump out and jump in to the Nam Kong. You then just let the current take you... Me and my Canadian buddy, Paul, made sure we stopped at every Beer Lao stop. They shout to you "Beer Lao, Beer Lao?". Obviously you say "yes" and then they fling out this bamboo stick and pull you in for your beer which you take with you as you float along to the next stop. You can get out and even do some crazy rope jumps into the river if you want to. I did a few but the more I drank, the less I could jump!

At this one stop they had ran out of Beer Lao. The lady told us to wait as her son had gone to fetch more. Next thing we know there's this kid on the riverbanks holding two Beer Lao bottles making his way out to us at the raft. He's swimming/drowning to get those bottles to us. We were so touched by this act of bravery and unselfishness that we had to give him 5,000 kip for his troubles. I've never seen a child's face light up so much at receiving 50 cents!

We were quite pissed by the end of the tubing trip. I think we were the last two out the river that evening after a good 6 hour session floating like a turd down the Nam Kong. Maybe it wasn't too good an idea then that I decided to have a "Happy" Shake that night. It kinda threw me! I was happy, then I just got really paranoid and then I started having these mad flashbacks to my childhood. The guys I was with were a bit freaked out by my freaking out! The next day my head was in a spin and all I was capable of doing was watching 9 hours of movies back to back in a restaurant. I was zombified. If you come to Vang, beware the shakes the label "Happy"!

Last day in the Vang of Vieng we chilled out by the river watching the sun go down supping on just a couple of Beer Lao. Paradise, I think I've found you...

Next stop Vientiane....
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