The bus was SO hot, I started sweating as soon as I got on. They were so rude when we asked if they could turn on some air conditioning: they looked at us, spoke to each other in Lao and laughed. Then the non-driver shouted, “No!” Alright then … During the rest of the ride, it got cooler, and at one point even cold. I’m not sure what their reasoning for the heat and attitude was.
Frances and I changed buses in Luang Prabang and arrived in the tourist town of Vang Vieng around noon – an eighteen-hour trip. We walked to our hostel from the bus station, checked in, showered and ventured out for lunch. We found the Vang Vieng bakery and had some Pak Thai soup. Later we had dinner with some other travelers that we’d met during the day, and headed over to Sakura bar for free whiskey. After 9 PM, the place filled up with Koreans. Apparently, Vang Vieng is like the Ibiza for Koreans, they LOVE to party there! The music wasn’t great, but we found our way to another bar that also had free whiskey. The music wasn’t any better there, so we soon called it a night.
The next morning, a bunch of us and headed to the Blue Lagoon. The water was a creamy turquoise and there was a swing hanging from a tree so you could jump in if you wanted to … I didn’t …
We had lunch at the SAE Lao Project. Their mission is to improve education, provide employment and encourage sustainable development. They teach English to local children and employ local families. They provide free labor and financial support to the surrounding communities. They practice composting, organic gardening, and sustainable building techniques. Their biogas system fuels their kitchen stove. You can apply to volunteer there for a minimum of two weeks.
We carried on to Blue Lagoon #3 (apparently the best one) and had to travel on a VeRy BuMpY rOaD. I went really slow to make sure my scooter wouldn’t slip and fall over. It was nice to travel through the villages and see how the local people lived in their tiny homes with thatched roofs. Most of the children were really friendly, saying hello to us, others were shy and not sure what to make of us. We made it up to the point where the bridge had fallen into the river. We had to pay to park our scooters, then pay for a tuk-tuk to take us through the river and the final 2km. When we arrived, the sun had gone behind the clouds and it had become a cooler. We only spent a little bit of time there, watching others leap into the water. We called for a different tuk-tuk this driver stopped right before the river and told us to walk through the river ourselves. Umm … excuse me? So we took off our shoes and followed some other locals through the river. It wasn’t as deep as I expected, but in order to make sure I didn’t lose my flip flops in the current, I walked very carefully in my bare feet and then made my way back to town.
DAY 2: After a long night of free whiskey and dancing, I slept as long as possible – just making it in time for free breakfast in the hostel. We spent the day at the nice Silver Naga Hotel on the Nam Song River. For a few bucks, I attended a yoga class and got to use the pool all day! We alternated sunning, swimming, napping, listening to music and just really enjoyed our lazy day.
We went for dinner to the Thai-German restaurant that had amazing reviews on TripAdvisor. Weird experience! The owner, a man born in Bangkok who lived in Germany for 30 years, wanted to seat us inside the restaurant, but we preferred to sit on the patio where there was a bit of a breeze and we could watch people walk by. He allowed it, but told us he would need to move us if a party of 6 showed up to fill up the large table – okay? Then he explained the menu to us: these are the drinks, this is the Thai menu, this is the German menu, … we could see for ourselves! He would not serve Radlers (shandy) after 5 PM, but you could order a beer AND a sprite and make your own … Frances asked what the curry was like – green? Red? Yellow? She wanted to know how spicy it was, but he kept saying he can’t compare it because he makes it himself and it’s a special curry. After going back and forth a bit, he provided her a sample and since it was like a yellow curry, she agreed to order it. The party of two who sat beside us asked for Pad Thai with chicken, but he wouldn’t allow it. Apparently, his Pad Thai does NOT come with chicken. Our food came and looked delicious! I had ordered schnitzel and potatoes, so I asked for ketchup. You don’t eat this dish with ketchup! Try it without, it’s not German to have ketchup with your potatoes … he was actually right … the potatoes were pretty freakin’ amazing! And the schnitzel was simply divine. We made our way to the bakery where I indulged in a giant chocolate chip cookie with an Oreo on top! Time for bed!
DAY 3: TUBING is THE thing to do in Vang Vieng and I reluctantly decided to go. Years ago, people would hop in their tubes and stop at the many bars along the way. You can imagine the problems that come with drinking and tubing! There were many deaths and they had to forbid the activity for a while. We registered directly with the Red tubing company and ended up in a group with a German couple, two Korean girls and our guide. All we brought were our swimsuits and Frances’s dry bag that held our stuff. We didn’t even bring our shoes! We floated down the lovely calm river for about 30 minutes before stopping at the first bar. Drinks were a bit more expensive here, but I guess that’s to be expected. They had party music and some swings. We chatted and drank and then our guide told us it was time to move on. It was a lot easier jumping onto our tubes after the beer! We floated on and, after another chill 30 minutes, we arrived at the next bar. Our guide disappeared and we realized that, when we wanted to leave, we would just let them know and they would call a tuk-tuk for us. So, we had a couple beers and partied to the great music! When we were ready to leave, we just crossed the river in our tube and returned to the hostel to clean up for our final night in the city. We had a fantastic pizza for dinner and I turned in early. The next morning I would be heading to Phosavan and saying goodbye to my new friend, Frances, and the lovely city of Vang Vieng.