VangVieng, Laos
Posted Date: 11/15/20138:15 AM


October 13th 2008

So we survived the road show downs and enter a sparsely populated tourist town that is Vang Vieng. It’s a one road town really, with a few side roads. Even by Luang Prabang standards it is pretty empty. I guess the only reason people come here is to open a tourist type shop, guest house or you are a tourist yourself.

Once we decamp to our hotel, paying the extortionate rate of $6 a night we wander the main road. The first thing you notice is that most of the bigger cafes and restaurants have a kind of raised lounge seating, and the second thing is they all have tv’s playing Friends or Family Guy. Weird!

Now the main draw for this place is the river and the landscape around the river. It’s another really beautiful place away from the town. The main activity on the river is either tubing (anyone remember that 80′s arcade game Toobin’) or kayaking.

Tubing is like a floating pub crawl on the river, they give you a big old inner tube from a tractor tire and you get it in and float down river on the current. There are a fair few bars on both sides of the river with a variety of swings, death wires, and slides pumping out different kinds of music at deafening volumes (with no regard to the horrible bass buzz of a speaker that can’t take it). There are men with bamboo poles or life-rings on ropes that they chuck out to the people floating by to get them to come and have another drink.
 
Kayak in Vang Vieng

The drinks being either Lao beer, or a cocktail, and this is the chic bit, served in a small plastic bucket! The river is pretty sedate so it really is no problem to sit in your tube sipping cocktails from a bucket and gently float down stream.

What we did with our tube however is totally different, somebody (read me) decided that we were going to do all that Vang Vieng offered in a single day, so we did the full monty, trekking, caving, tubing and kayaking in a single trip (or so we thought).

A little van took us and a bunch of others about 20 km upstream, we were giving a quick lesson on kayak handling and we were getting all psyched up for our first double kayak on the river. Then the come down, our first trip in the kayak lasted all of 30 seconds, we just crossed the river and got out to walk through and look at a local village and then start our trekking portion of the day.

The trek through the dung ridden village paths eventually led out into the rice paddies, again the gorgeous green colours surround us, crystal clear water streams past in the gutters (don’t know what else to call them) that line the edge of the fields. We see dragonflies and butterflies all over, and even catch sight of some snakes that the guide points out.

A short 20 minutes later we arrive at a small shack surrounded by inner tubes, a small pool of water and then what looks like a mouse hole sized lump of blackness at the base of the cliff face. A rope strung across the pool leading to the hole confirmed Shabana’s worst fears about what is to follow.

We are given head torches and a inner tube and sort of crocodile like we drag ourselves into the cave via the rope. The limestone cave is cool, it has much stronger currents that expected and at times it makes it very difficult to move against it. Moths flutter around the torches and on the ceiling which can be pretty low at points you can make out the descending silk traps of the cave spiders that hope to feast on the moths. Occasionally you can see bats roosting higher up.

We paddle linked via our feet to the tube in front like a strange, ungainly and no doubt obese crocodile through the caves to the end, then we turn around and float back the way we cave. It is quite peaceful on the way back.
After a lunch of fried rice and chicken kebabs we trek back through the fields and start the real kayaking 20 km back to town. It is really peaceful and there are a few rapids to negotiate, but we survive all of those with ease. A minor highlight of the day is when the 2 annoyingly loud Canadian girls stop concentrating on what they are doing and end up crashing into the trees at the side of the river and capsize themselves. I had a good chuckle at that.
It really is peaceful and relaxing just letting the boat float down stream on the current, paddy fields and karst formations line the river and the sun is shining.

A dinner of Lao style barbeque chicken and fish with sticky rice rounds off the day nicely.

Source: Chunka – Chun Lee’s Blog – Travelblog
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