Adventures In Vang Vieng

Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
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Trip End May 02, 2013


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Where I stayed
Maylyn Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Friday, March 16, 2012

On the slow snaking road to Vang Vieng almost every house and tree were covered in dust.  Still the hills and valleys made for some scenic views.  On arrival we had lunch with a nice American / Mexican couple we met in Cambodia while applying for our Vietnam visas.  We enjoyed some green tea flavoured with locally grown mulberries.

Our prebooked bungalow was a bit of a hike across the river and out of town.  Jason's watch registered the temperature at an even and steamy 40 degrees Celsius (not including the heavy humidity) so we were pretty sweaty while carrying all of our things.  We plopped ourselves down on the balcony overlooking another fine batch of karsts and fields while the sun slowly slipped away.

On our walk back to town we ran into a couple from Montreal we'd met the previous day at the COPE Centre in Vientiane.  We dined together at a kicked back restaurant playing Friends reruns.  The eateries in Vang Vieng are split between showing either Friends or Family Guy, mostly for the tubing crowd.  With very few lights to show the way we needed our headlamps to find our bungalow again.

In the middle of the night the skies came alive as a massive thunderstorm flashed and rumbled over our heads.  Heavy rain and wind followed, making for a restless night, but our rustic room held on.

The next morning we took a cave-tubing and kayaking tour.  Even though we'd recently visited the ginormous Kong Lo Cave it was still quite an experience to ride an inner tube through this dark underworld.  The jagged rock walls and ceiling were much closer, each one posing the risk of popping the tube.  We propelled ourselves, used a rope to guide us, bounced off the walls with our feet and had headlamps to light the way.  After breaking for a delicious and hearty lunch we made a brief stop at the Elephant Cave.

The last stage was to kayak 10 km down the Nam Song River, enjoying the amazing scenery, a few gentle rapids and eventually passing people tubing and drinking at the many bars dotting both banks.  We stopped at one, swam and tested our slingshot skills.  Sylvia knocked down more cans than Jason.  Then we paddled back into town and enjoyed fantastic chicken, bacon, garlic and cheese sandwiches from a street vendor.  Sitting in a fine bakery we came up empty while researching places to stay in Luang Prabang, our next stop.  Another walk-up awaits us.  Back at our place Jason encountered a large leech (~10 cm x 4 cm) on the bathroom step.

The following day we rented high-quality mountain bikes and headed for the more remote countryside.  We knew we were in for a scorcher when it warmed up much faster than the previous day.  Several signs along the way invited us to hike, visit caves and swim.  We stuck to our plan to do one hike, one cave and one lagoon.

The first hike was very steep through steaming jungle and peaked with jagged charcoal grey rock.  About three minutes in we were drenched in sweat... quite possibly our hottest hike ever.  The views were a little hazy but worth the climb.  Luckily getting down was easier than expected and the boy we paid had dutifully watched our bikes.

Moving on we met an American guy with a Russian girl and biked to the cave and lagoon site together.  Jason went quickly up the tree and jumped into the crystal blue water full of fish.  It was sooo refreshing.  Up another steep set of rock stairs we entered Poukham Cave.  The entrance alone was amazing but it went deeper and deeper into the hillside.  After a while we decided to head back but got roadblocked by an impassable chasm.  We saw the light and exited safely.  Another swim, more jumps and a few rope swings into the water cooled us off again.

After a brief stop at our guesthouse to reload water and snacks, we rode through town to an organic farm.  Jason checked the temperature on his watch again and it read 42.2!!!  Unfortunately we arrived between lunch and dinner serving hours so we had to settle for iced mulberry tea.  The same farm's cafe in town cured Sylvia's craving for fresh goat cheese.  We returned the bikes, booked our bus tickets out of town and enjoyed a roadside chocolate, banana and coconut pancake on the sunset walk back to our bungalow.

Our guesthouse hosted a delicious fish barbecue that night so we met a few more travellers over dinner, drinks and cards.  The owner is quite a character, curmudgeonly, brash and bitter but always with a smile.  Earlier on he'd complained about someone posting a bad review on Trip Advisor so Jason told him he would post a good review about the leeches.  He responded by saying, "You do that.  I'll track you down and fry your balls off."

And the next morning we left for Luang Prabang.
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Comments

ange on

Laos looks amazing! Same same but different?

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