Our Stray tour continued with another 6 hour drive. When we got there we went to a cave that during the Secret (Vietnam) war, over 300 villagers and the provincial governor lived in hiding for 6-7 years. It was surprisingly small and very fascinating to imagine that it had once housed and sheltered so many lives. We spent the night in very cosy bungalows overlooking the Mekong river and the surrounding countryside. The next morning the whole gang from Stray loaded into a little boat that would take us from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang in 6 hours. Although we were getting a little tired of all the traveling around, the boat ride was a nice break from the bus and it was gorgeous and very relaxing. We stopped off at a cave within the mountain that held the most buddah statues in one cave in all of Lao. When we arrived in Luang Prabang that afternoon, Thordie and I went to a fantastic local bakery to eat and then we headed to the nearby night market to pick up some gifts for people back home.
The next day we were in for yet another 6 hour drive on the bus. The road was incredibly windy and mostly gravel for the duration of the trip. Once we got to Vang Vieng we walked around the town to get a feel for the place we were to stay in for the next 4 days until the next Stray bus. The town itself was not very nice, however the area around it was gorgeous and there were many activities to do in and around the town. Some of the activities offered included: biking to the famous Blue Lagoon, mountain biking, real rock climbing, dirt biking, kayaking and the most popular, tubing.
Thordie and I went to sleep that night excited about all the fun things coming our way, and woke up feeling just the opposite. When Thordie woke up that morning he felt very ill. I stayed in bed with him all day and tried to get him to sip on water and eat what he could keep down. By the evening he was feeling a little better, and then it was my turn. Thordie stayed up with me for almost half the night while I also emptied the contents of my stomach. For three days and nights we both suffered like this, with brief breaks that allowed us to slowly walk around outside and grab a smoothie and water. Getting sick is never fun, getting sick while traveling though is a whole different story, especially if the only other person you know there is also sick with you. Fortunately by the end of the third day we both were feeling a great deal better and we were very fortunate that we could eat a meal again. Even though neither of us could really take great care of each other, it still made the whole ordeal much easier on both of us knowing that we were there for each other as much as we could.
Once we were both feeling like ourselves again it was time to head on with Stray to the next place. We realized that we really had no desire to get back on the bus and continue driving for hours every day when we barely got to see the places that we stopped off in. The issue was that we could not jump off in any places because we only had a limited amount of time before we needed to be back in Thailand to get on our plane home. Our Stray tour in New Zealand had been very different because there was much less driving and we also got to hop off at almost every stop. Thordie and I decided that we would simply leave the Stray bus behind and stay in the town we were in at the time until we caught the sleeper train back to Bangkok in time for our flight. We were very happy with our choice because Vang Vieng is a very fun town with much to do and see. Being spontaneous and going with the flow is all a part of traveling, and I think we handled a possible tough situation very well.
When the other Stray travelers got on the bus the next morning Thordie and I had other plans. We had heard that there were over 50 kilometers of trails just outside of town so we walked to a place that rented dirt bikes and quads. After driving them from the store to the gas station a couple blocks away we both found them to be in very poor condition. Thordie made the smart call to return them before we went out because he thought they were too unsafe to ride on the trails. After we gave them back we walked to a place that rented out bicycles and took out a couple. We rode to a cave and mini mountain that we climbed and saw an amazing view of Vang Vieng. After we returned the bikes we got a tuk tuk to take us to Blue Lagoon. We spent the rest of the day there jumping off the tree and rope swings into the cool blue water. Just before we left to head back we climbed into cave just behind the lagoon and discovered that it was massive. We spent a while climbing around inside the pitch black cave with the flashlights that we had rented from the stall outside. It turned out being a fantastic day, and one that we both needed after the last few days of punishment.
The next day was the greatest day that I have spent while in Thailand and Laos yet. Thordie and I decided that we would give the famous tubing a try. We were not sure what to expect when we got there in the morning, but we had heard only good things. The basic premiss is that each person gets a tube to float down the river on and as you go down you pass tons of bars that all have activities to attract customers. Unfortunately for the bars, their activities are so fun that they steal all the attention of the people. Thordie and I spent the whole day playing around on the trapeze, doing flips off it into the water, sliding down a giant, slide on the tubes and getting thrown into the water, and zip lining across the river. I can't even describe how fun the day was, and I am sure that we will be going again in the next few days. We took plenty of photos though and we will be sure to put some up on facebook as soon as we get the chance.
Tomorrow we have a rock climbing tour booked that I am excited for. Apparently we are taken to a big canyon and giant rock wall where we get to climb on real rock walls for the day. I am very happy that Thordie and I chose to get off the bus, and I am sure that there will be lots of adventures coming our way in the next few days.