After the scenic drive down to Vang Vieng through mountains and numerous little villages we checked into our hostel, Boontang, where a peculiar German girl shared our dorm, she gave us the choice of air con or nothing, if we chose air con it had to be on a certain (hot) temperature for her, resulting in some sneaky button presses from us lot.
We had a walk around the town, it was small, dusty and quiet..surrounded by mountains, bamboo bridges, river and trees. The main reason for heading to VV is the tubing, although a shadow of it’s former self with only 4 bars remaining along the river, it was still a blast. Although more bars and people may have been more fun, I quite liked the fact the town was restored to it’s original quietness.
After hiring tubes I.e a large cut out tyre we headed to the first bar, where we were greeted with Lao whiskey shots at 11am and given bracelets, a reward for shotting the paint stripper whiskey. Along the river we floated, it was pretty relaxing, until we were thrown ropes and pulled into the next bar for more whiskey, bracelets and volleyball. We tubed until around 7pm, resulting in a very drunk bunch of people, naps on the table, sick in the tubes, hula hooping on a stage, lots of new bracelets and numerous games of beer pong.
VV offers a lot more than just tubing, the various bars there offered episodes of Friends and Family guy, which provided entertainment as we sampled the local delicacy at JDs bar, and a day of illness as I spent the next day feeling sick. Not wanting sickness to ruin my day I hired a motorbike with Johnny, to get out and explore around Vang Vieng, expecting a nice drive I didn’t think it would be to strenuous on my sickly body. I was wrong, the roads were terrible. After what felt like hours biking along the bumpiest, rockiest path ever we arrived at the blue lagoon and bumped into Roxanne, Andrew and Sammy. We jumped straight into the freezing lagoon, and watched the locals jump off the high tree branches into the lagoon. The water itself was lovely, however the surrounding area was very littered and full to the brim of travellers, seemingly taking away some of the natural beauty.
Up next on the bike tour Johnny and I found a large cave, our guides were 2 young girls, maybe 6 and 9, who guided us through the dark caves, telling us to be careful, and pointing out various rock formations, Johnny hobbled along with his wounded leg, but successfully managed to climb all bamboo ladders and obstacles in his way. At the deepest accessible point of the cave, the girls asked for a tip, which was expected, and not wanting to be left in the cave we obliged. On the ride home I successfully rode my bike into a ditch, confirming my thoughts that I should have stayed in bed feeling sorry for myself.
We spent longer than expected in Vang Vieng, due to it being the weekend the vietmanse embassy in Vientiene would be closed, this suited us perfectly, as we soaked up sitting by the river looking at the mountains for an extra 2 days.
We arrived in Vientiane, after hearing off every other traveller to skip the capital we did not have high expectations, but wanting to make up our own mind we headed out, the market itself was actually quite good, one of the sights was a giant victory arch, which had a plaque describing itself as a “concrete monster”. That was about it. We began to arrange our Vietmanise visas, we were due to pick them up at 5pm the next day, our bus to Hanoi, Vietnam was 5:30pm.. It was going to be close.
In order to shed a more positive light on Vientiane we headed out for a posh French meal under Cals request. I ordered grilled salmon, vodka stroganoff and tagliatelle, it was definitely worth the 79,000 kip, and remains one of my favourite meals yet. Sitting in the posh restaurant in our grubby vests, shorts and flip flops we revelled eating a proper meal, with glasses of wine and napkins. Following the meal we headed to a live music bar, where a Laos band covered classics such a Adele, Westlife, and Whitney Housten. After what started as a dignified evening we trudged along to the local nightclub, which featured constant strobe lights, hardcore rave and lots of dodgy looking people. As Katja showed us her finest Finnish rave dance moves, Roxanne and I decided to just get stuck in and embrace the nightclub, showcasing our own version of Finnish dance moves.
The next day we hung around the hostel, eating food and playing pool. We had booked a nice hotel for the next few nights in a Vietnam, in order to celebrate Cals birthday. The time came to collect our visas, we were there for 5pm sharp, only to find they had not even started the visa process, no stamps or signatures had yet been done, surrounded by others also waiting for their visas, we counted down the time until our bus left. That time came and left…we sped back to the hostel, passports in hand to miraculously find the bus still there waiting for us. We said our unfortunately rushed goodbyes to Johnny, who I had travelled with since day 2, Sammy, and Katja, who head further south into Laos. It was a sad moment as we drove away waving to the remaining half of the group, people we had called friends for the last few weeks, but that is life on the road..next stop Hanoi, Vietnam!