This town is a big stop on the backpacker trail in Laos for reasons which some love and some hate. The latter is mainly due to the TV Bars which continuously show episodes of ‘Friends’ all day and we inevitably spent a couple of hours in one on our first evening more out of curiosity than anything else. When we got back to our guesthouse after that we were without electricity so not happy with that we changed place the following morning before embarking on our day tour in heavy rain.
Kayaking was first up along some gentle rapids and then it was trekking across the beautifully picturesque green rice fields (difficult for those in trainers and flip-flops who were slipping all over the place) to get to the caves. Armed with an ancient heavy headtorch pack we went caving which this time was difficult for me as the slippy mud meant my feet were putting a lot of pressure on my sandal straps at times plus neither of my hands were free.
Overall we saw three caves which weren’t so interesting but I guess getting into and out of them was the point and far more fun particularly on the final one where we floated back out through the cave with a candle in the hand.
More kayaking followed in the rain and this time I was with Richard as Mizuki wanted to go with the guide. In hindsight, a good idea for her as we became the only ones to capsize and to rub salt in our wounds we later had a repeat performance.
The main highlight for most people in Vang Vieng is tubing which we did on Tuesday morning and cost $7 for a tyre (and tuk-tuk to the starting point) which you float down the river on amid limestone cliffs. There’s far more to it than that though as there are a load of bars and rope-swings along the way for you to stop in at……or rather be stopped at by the local kids pulling you in.
Given that we started early before the midday/early afternoon rush we weren’t gonna be drinking anyway though unbelievably people getting off their faces and floating down to the end is very common if not a bit dangerous. Still, this is South-East Asia where the strict rules of developed countries are not adhered to which can be quite refreshing to adrenalin seekers like myself. The first stop was the big one after all of about two minutes floating and included a mighty rope-swing where you swing back and forth before eventually letting go and taking the plunge into the dirty waters. Fantastic fun and I did it three times before moving on as we had plans for the afternoon.
We hired some quite good mountain bikes ($2) which enabled us to get out into the surrounding countryside to witness the (even) slower pace of life; locals sitting around doing nothing, kids playing and having fun, free-roaming cows and chickens, bumpy roads with puddles galore from the daily rainfall, locals saying ‘Sabaidee’ (Hello) to us in a way that they would say it to anyone else and, wooden roadside homes all sporting gigantic satellite dishes but without basics like running water or a front door. May not sound too exotic but interesting nonetheless.
Unfortunately I lost my cap somehow and somewhere on the way back and then my pedal suddenly just snapped off which was blo*dy painful on my toe and indeed quite literally bloody.