Posted by Julia:
We arrived mid afternoon in a beautiful spot in central northern Laos called Vang Vieng. The countryside and the limestone cliffs are spectacular; it’s almost like Halong Bay (Northern Vietnam) except instead of the sea there is a river.
Our first afternoon in Vang Vieng was pretty chilled out, we explored the tiny town, checked out the river and organised some tubing for the next day. We crossed the dodgiest bamboo bridge to an island in the middle of the river and found a cool little bar. The bar consisted of several bamboo huts with hammocks – so we did the logical thing and grabbed 2 bottles of Beer Lao and relaxed by the riverside watching the tubers and kayakers floating down the river. Pure bliss!
In the evening we decided to go for a bite to eat, we were promptly bombarded by lots of TVs in several bars/restaurants blaring different episodes of Friends. Where they got the idea that foreigners would love to watch Friends while eating their meals beats me! Talk about horrible noise pollution – even Karaoke (after several too many beers) would be better than that! What was worse was most of the bars and restaurants were empty.
Day 2 in Vang Vieng was TUBING DAY! The most popular activity in Vang Vieng seems to be tubing down the Nam Song River in an inflated tractor tyre, stopping off to drink beer at several of the many bars scattered along the riverside and go monkey jumping into the river from a great height! So we headed 13kms North of Vang Vieng to check out Tham Nam Cave and Tham Sang (Elephant Cave). Tham Nam Cave required us to get fitted with head lights, jump into the freezing cold water in our tubes and pull ourselves along a rope against the flow of the river. It was so much fun. A tad scary (first a tiny spider freaked me out, then a HUGE spider REALLY REALLY freaked me out (it was huge)… luckily the guide protected me and shooed the spider away).
Because it is the wet season we couldn’t go far into the cave, but during the wet season the water going down the river is about 4x as fast as normal so we could tube 12kms down the river (apparently in the dry season people can only go 3-4kms). Unfortunately, I woke up feeling like ‘crap on toast’ so the whole day was a bit of a struggle for me… I lasted until about 3pm when we were about 2/3rds down the river and crashed… with zero energy, wicked stomach cramps I was put onto a Kayak and sent back down the river to my bed. Megan continued though, she even did the Monkey Jumping which involved her going on a 10 metre high swing and ended up with Megan (aka the Monkey) flying into the river at great speed. The rest of the afternoon/evening was a complete write off for me…. I spent my time dashing between the bathroom to my bed. I won’t give details but I will say… it wasn’t very nice at all.
No photos of tubing yet as we took a disposable camera – will post some when we get it developed