down the road into what I would have described as the middle of nowhere and reappears 20 mins later with the necessary wrench?! Where the hell he got it from was a mystery but sure enough within another 20 mins the tyre was changed and we were back on the road! Bizzare.
Vang Vieng was the next stop on the beaten Northern Laos backpacker trail and doesn't really count toward experiencing the country’s culture
. It’s basically a hedonistic paradise where the Falangs
(White People) have hijacked a scenic town on the Nom Song river and turned into a complete party town. A stretch of river that sits underneath an stunning backdrop of the limestone karsts where a load of bars have shot up and turned it into a playground, complete with 20m high river swings and buckets of Lao Lao Whiskey
mixed with anything you please. You rent tubes from the evil Tubing Monopoly downtown and get a sawngthaew
up to the start of the river to float down back, drink in tow. Then back to town to continue on at the beach bars and get a greasy pancake. It’s a awesome fun and you basically indulge and party it up for a few days. The wonders of facebook made it possible to hook up with Pete & Stef, the sound American couple I met at Leo’s On On hotel down in Phuket, the extended Gibbon Crew and a 6th completely coincident chance encounter with Aussie Suzie in the 6th different place (First met her down on Ko Phi Phi) along with her mates! So we had a good few of days with minimal sleep and lots of interaction with the Pancake ladies...salt of the earth! Good times.
There is some interesting stuff to see in the surrounding area, we went around a few of the fabled caves that are said to be inhabited by spirits by the locals. We paid a visit to the Tham Sang
(literally Elephant Cave) complete with Buddha statues dotted around and yet another Buddha’s footprint (that God does get around) and an opportunity to go Tubing in a deep dark cave of Tham Nam
which was creepy as we were the only ones there at the time and our rickety head lights didn’t really shed much light on where the cave was gonna finish.
After the fourth day we had to escape to get some sleep! So SUPPER VIP bus down the capital Vientiane.
Laos is reluctantly steamrolling toward Thailand in terms of catering with westerners with backpacks. Getting around is a simple case of getting the landlady at your guesthouse to book you a ticket from A to B on either VIP or Supper VIP (presumably they mean Super) and await pick up. En route from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng we got a local bus though and we experience our first break down, just as Lonely Planet predicted. A loud bang whilst cruising through the striking mountains of the North and we had a blow out. So off the driver goes