Viang Vieng

Trip Start Jan 07, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Paradise Island Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Sunday, March 8, 2009

       So we left Phonsavon at about seven in the morning for Vang Vieng. We caught a VIP bus at 7:15 and the lady at the window said it would take six to seven hours. The bus stopped at one point to let everyone off in the middle of the mountains to take a pee on the side of the road. All the Lao people also used this as an opportunity to throw all their garbage on the side of the road. After about six hours, get this, we actually got there! Normally if they give you an expected time frame you add a third to the longer end of the spectrum and maybe you'll get there. Anyway

Vang Vieng is a logical stopping point between the two "major" cities in Laos; Luang Prabang and Vientianne. There is a nice river in the middle of the town and some huge limestone karsts all around. There are supposedly tons of trails for hiking and biking and some cool caves. As it turns out the river is lined with bars blasting techno music and the trails are short and usually have a kid waiting for you to get about halfway to the destination (cave waterfall mountain etc.) to charge you 10000 Kip (1.25) to continue. The town is full of restaurants playing Friends Family Guy, or the Simpsons re-runs to lure in the crowd. The general plan of most tourists here is to rent a tube and cruise the river bars getting wasted and head into town for hamburgers. Part of me says this is the biggest tourist exploitation yet but the other part just says "awesome. How much for the tube?".

We got the tube and the tuk tuk for about 55000 kip (rip-off). You can actually just swim the whole thing and this is what most people did we found out later. The bars start right at the put-in and most people don't get past the bridge a hundred yards or so down river. I can see why. Shots of Lao Lao ( homemade rice whiskey) are free and plentiful. They don't really make mixed drinks just beer or buckets. Buckets are about a pint of whiskey, a can of red bull and a splash of coke. The cost favors the buckets so why the hell not. The stupid decisions just come flying then. Next come out the markers. People cover themselves in writing with permanent markers. Then there are crazy zip-lines all over that, with plenty of bravery juice to fuel them, people hurl themselves down and into the water. Remember that this is a river and the water is about waiste-high. There were tons of injuries. I managed to stumble away from most of the shenanigans and left with nothing worse than a fuzzy memory. I'm not old but the spring break thing is for younger and probably better insured people than Danielle and myself.

We checked out some of the local caves and did a little mountain biking. You can't go very far on the trails. For those going I would definitely check out Lusi cave west of town for 20000 kippers. You get a guide who takes you back like a quarter mile to a flooded section of the cave with.......wait for it.......tubes! This place isn't really sure why we come to Laos but they're pretty sure we're into tubes. We went swimming inside the cave and floated around on the tubes with the lights off. Our guide even sang to us in the darkness of the cave. He had definitely had some practice using the echos and re-verb to get eerie multi-pitch chords. Comfortable enough in his skimpies he finished the walk/slither out in style. Pretty funny he kept pointing out large stalactites that resembled penises and saying "falang", it means white person, and pointing to a small one and saying "laos people". They love their falic symbols here.  

We got bored with Vang Vieng and headed down Vientienne. We're there right now actually (that is unless you are reading this in the future...). Vientiane really doesn't have much going on but we have to wait for our Visas to to Vietnam to go through. It's the weekend and Monday is national women's day so the embassies are closed. We have a ticket for Tuesday to Hanoi. From there we'll take a series of trains and buses down the coast to Ho Chi Minh (or Hoochie Coochie man if you're tight with the Mihn man).  Time allowing we'll take the Cambodia coast to Thailand and fly out Bangkok. I'm still researching Viet Nam so shoot me a suggestion if you know a good place to drop off some agent orange.
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hildreth75 on

Happy Pizza
How many of those did you eat?? They are sooo strong! I was not right for an entire day...when I was there they just played friends on all the TV bars... I only spent 450 dollars the entire month I was in Lao, You must go to DON DET, YOU MUST!! I command you. Look at my travel pod for Don Det, find the picture of the chained monkey, Then find that monkey in Don Det (hes missing a hand) and buy him 5 bucks worth of monkey treats (he likes cucumber) I will pay you back if you find him and prove it! He was my monkey friend!

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