18.11.2010 - 20.11.2010 26 °C
The minibus picked us up, as well as 5 other boys from other guesthouses, 2 of whom were already drunk. Fanastic! We were soon moved onto a VIP bus, BUT the aircon worked!!! HURRAH! We were joined by a lot of other tourists, and there was a very high idiot:seat ratio. We were starting to wonder whether Vang Vieng was going to for us, but we decided to appeal to the idiot tourist side of ourselves for a couple of days!
An uneventful 4 hours later, we arrived in Vang Vieng. We walked up towards a Guesthouse we’d read about in Lonely Planet, but were accosted midway by a drunk guy who persuaded us to go to the Guesthouse he was staying in. The room we were shown was only 50,000 kip ($6, £4), and the room was rather huge, with 2 double beds and another double mattress on the floor! We were slightly worried we’d accidentally found ourselves in a dorm, but never mind!
We wandered out to get dinner. Vang Vieng is definitely the most touristy place we’ve been to date, Siem Reap NOT excepted. The whole place is full of drunk westerners, and bars, restaurants and guesthouses catering to them. Even when we went for a walk the next day, this is all we really found in the whole place: unlike everywhere else we’ve been, there doesn’t seem to be a “real” town away from the tourist area. Undetered, we decided that a couple of days of tourist land never did anyone any favours, and we went to one of the riverside restaurants and had dinner. We had fried noodles, with a BeerLao, and had a good chat, and didn’t go to bed until 9pm. What an achievement!!
The next day we woke at about 6:30, chilled until 8 because we knew nothing would be open, then went and got bacon and salad baguettes for 10,000kip each ($1.10, 85p), which were super tasty! We then went and asked about rooms in the GH we’d wanted to stay in originally, they told us 60,000kip inc breakfast which sounded good to us, so we got our bags, and then the other member of staff told us there was no rooms. Grr! So we tried to find somewhere else, failed, went back to see if we could wait and see if anyone checked out, then magically they had a room, so we moved. It’s a lot more basic, with a shared bathroom and thin mattress, but it’s so pretty, with a lovely view and nice and open. We love it!
Then we walked to a cave about 2km away. It cost us 2000kip each to walk across a hotel’s grounds to get there, only 20p, but the principle made us cross!
Nevertheless, when we got to the cave, we had a good swim in the pool outside it, and slightly into it, but we didn’t walk into the main cave because it cost 20,000kip, and we figured that Kong Lo cave was enough for anyone!
John did try to get to the cave through a little back route, but it got too dark and we had no torch, so we gave up!
We went back, and John went on the internet while Susie had a nap. We then had lunch – chicken/sausage sandwiches this time – while watching ‘Friends’! A lot of restaurants show continual re-runs of it, and ‘Family Guy’, and although it’s horrifically touristy, it’s a nice little touch of home after nearly 10 weeks! Definitely a touristy thing we appreciate!
In the afternoon, we walked to another cave. We thought it was only 6km away...turned out to be over 8km. Phew! On the way, we went past a group of butterflies that were kind of swarming, and they were so beautiful.
We arrived, walked up some steep stone steps to the cave, which was very pretty,
and then we went and enjoyed ourselves in the river swimming spot at the bottom, which had a great rope swing (which Susie was unfortunately useless at!).
Then we set off on our very long walk home! The scenery made it acceptable though!
When we got back to Vang Vieng at 6pm we, nervously, went and asked about our passports at the guesthouse we’d been told would give us them back. The first man we spoke too was grumpy and unhelpful, tried to give John some random guys passport, didn’t know anything about it, and did nothing to reassure us! He then sent us down the garden to little office, where a much friendlier and more helpful guy produced them straightaway from a filing cabinet. A quick check showed us that they had our new visas in them. Hurrah! Susie was very relieved, and although John insisted he’d always known it’d be fine, he was relieved really!
In the evening, we had a dinner of fried rice, and watched more Friends, then headed to a second bar for another beer, and more Friends, and then went to bed.
The next day was the day we’d set aside for tubing. For those of you who don’t know, this is where you get the inner tube of a tractor tyre, and float down the Nam Sam river, which runs through Vang Vieng. It’s become a real thing to do in Laos, and there are a lot of bar set up along the river, and so it’s a bit of a boozy thing too! Since we’d decided that we were making the most of our time as idiot tourists, we decided to embrace it (although not as much as some people, who seem to come to Vang Vieng for a week or so and go tubing every day. Excessive.)
We chilled out in the morning, had Pad Thai for lunch, and then headed out for our tubing trip!
The first couple of bars were right at the start before any tubing at all, and were good fun but neither of us felt quite drunk enough for the party that was in swing, despite it only being 1pm!
John had a go on this ridiculously massive rope swing/trapeze that was above the river, which Susie thinks was terrifying, but John enjoyed it!
We then headed a little way downriver to a ‘Jungle bar’, where John loved, and Susie hated, the music, and from there to a bar where we had great fun playing volleyball (or kind of) in this massive muddy pit they had. Absolutely disgusting, but good!
Both feeling a little drunk, we headed further downriver, where the scenery of the river really started to be amazing, with limestone karsts rising up right next to us. It was completely ridiculous floating along a river like that in a rubber ring!
We stopped off at one more bar, where we chatted to a few people, got a little too drunk, and then set off (too late) for the end. It was very pretty floating downriver, but it was a long way from the last bar to the end, and John got really cold, so we walked the last bit back. When we got back, we were both tired (and drunk) so we went to bed early. We both woke up at about midnight, very awake and dehydrated, and then couldn’t get to sleep, and ended up having a 3 hour ridiculous conversation, that only half asleep, slightly drunk people would have had!!
We did have a lot of fun tubing, but I think we were both a bit disappointed by it really. We thought the stretch of river would have the bars spread along it, and everyone would sort of move down as the afternoon went on, and party their way downriver. But in reality, all the bars are in the first 1km of the 3.5km stretch of river, and most of the ones that seemed to have party atmospheres were in the first 400m or so. This means that you can’t really have a fun time in the bars, and a fun time floating down the river, you kind of have to pick one or the other. It seems that most people go for the former option, but we’re glad we got further downriver, because there would be very little point having the tube for the section most people seem to do. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun, and I think we’d both do it again, and think that more rivers should do it, because that element of it was just fantastic!!