I arrived in Vang Vieng after a rather comfortable little bus journey from Luang Prabang. There were some local women on the bus and they shared their oranges with me and some Germans. We stopped at an incredible viewpoint - get out and take pictures!
I stayed in Pan's Place. Run by a Brit and a Kiwi it was an older crowd but very friendly place. With hammocks and a chill out area, a really awesome burger and I stayed in a bungalow with 3 mattresses on the floor. My first time staying somewhere a bit more rural but I didn’t need a mosquito net thankfully!
My first night I shared with Roy, from Bangladesh who lived in Sydney. We had a difference of opinion when discussing the origins of consciousness but he was a really open and friendly guy with a great smile and I felt like I was at a sleep over. The two of us chit chatting before bed. The German girl in the bed to the other side of me was nowhere to be seen until I was awoken much later to what I thought must be an earthquake. I then proceeded to see much more of her and her American friend than I'd expected at first meeting and swiftly told them to take it outside. Sharing is caring, and had to leave a note to apologise for my Scottish swearing at being awoken in such a manner! Bamboo architecture is incredibly flexible but I thought the place was going to collapse they were at it with such vigour (I met her later and she was really sweet!). Wee Roy slept right through, bless!
In Laos you often get a couple of wee bananas with your meal which I really love! Really recommend getting a bike whist in Vang Vieng. It’s a great way to get around the centre of town and there isn’t much to see. I saw only one temple, but really enjoyed sunbathing at the hostel and drawing for my first few days. Plenty of activities for those adventurous types too.
I did have a night on the razz with a couple of people from my hostel. We met one of the Germans from my bus and his friend, a couple of Scottish guys from Peterhead and a lovely English couple. Really daft night at Sakura Bar, where 2 vodka mixers gets you a bar vest and they give out free Lao whisky from [I think] 9-11pm. They also do laughing gas balloons! Then to the club which everyone heads to after, Viva. Just follow the crowd. A small kerfuffle in there with the Scottish guys and somebody that had a cap on. Followed by the worst hangover in a long while. The wifi isn’t so great at Pans Place and I couldn’t get any David Attenborough to load. Wasn’t my finest moment and need to stay clear of the local spirits.
The lovely Kelly from Wales moved in to my room and asked me to come cycling with her. Aye give me 5 minutes I said the day after my hangover. I got up and washed and put on some of my new Laos clobber and even put eyeliner on. Went next door to get the bike Kelly had hired for me with her Irish friend Brie. 15,000 kip for the day, and it was lovely, with a basket and a lime green frame. Across uneven wooden bridges I tried to remember when I was last on a bike. I think it must have been at least 15 years ago. Then the road gets a little harder to manage, I get into it. As it is exactly something you don’t forget how to do. No gears on this casual, narrow tired bicycle I have to stand up to navigate the ever deteriorating road. As it was overcast it was a perfect day for it, but we’ve been going for a while before I think we must have a destination and ask. Oh we are going to Blue Lagoon 3, ah ok! We cycled on through little villages outside of town. Kids running up with hands outstretched asking for a dollar and some shouting sa-ba-dee to us from the roadside.
It turns out it was 15km away and I didn’t bring a bikini. Not to matter though as it was too deep for me [side note dear reader, I can’t swim and I really don’t like deep water]. There were tonnes of wee fishes and though the countryside was beautiful on the way. The ‘lagoon’ is man made.
The girls had fun jumping from platforms and rope swings until it started raining. We sheltered with a couple of German couples and had great fried rice and beers with charred sweet potatoes before we all decided to get the staff to sort us a tuk tuk back to town, chucking the bikes on the roof. The eyeliner survived!
We went for a massage and had Pad Thai on the main road, watching Friends. Then along to the Irish bar, as Brie couldn’t stay away [:D] and met the Peterhead guys, plus an extra one. Drank some really awesome apple cider and listened to their barman play. He was brilliant and had us all singing along. There was a music festival on but we decided to patch it and one of the bands that were playing, from Canada I think, did a few tunes too. Along to the reggae bar, which we not long got shuffled out of, as the Scottish when excited sound like we are about to start a fight and that’s just not the vibe they’re going for man… all together a magical day.
Bus to Vientaine as I'd had enough of this wee place. I skipped the tubing; mainly because I can’t swim but also because it doesn’t really attract the crowd I was after. There are bigger party hostels here but again, not where I fancied being and a jungle party that I was to hear a lot of regrettable stories about after. Vang Vieng is very much a tourist town, Laos people are still friendly but they are very reserved here as they must see some carnage. It wasn’t my favourite place but I did meet lovely Brits here but to be honest it could have been any daft holiday. Didn’t really feel like I was in Asia, but I suppose that isn’t a big concern for everyone.