The long journey to Vang Vieng
Our last morning in Luang Prabang being awakened by the monks hitting their gongs in a fast rhythm! Got up at 6.30am, did the regular routine and had breakfast in the garden. It’s cool in the mornings, overcast and probably 20 degrees C. or a little less. By 10am it is sunny and warm every day.
At 8.30am we board our bus and start on the 7-8 hours drive through the mountains to Vang Vieng. Beautiful vistas, lots of photo opportunities, and driving through lots of small mountain villages. They are concentrated on the side of the road and children and animals walk around freely. No fear for traffic! There is lots of poverty in the mountain villages. They grow rice, banana plants on the mountain sides which are very steep. The government encourages them to move to the low lands to have access to schools and healthcare and also to prevent more slash and burn of the forest (to grow crops).
Everyone has “designated” Brian as the official photographer of the group because he has the big honking camera. When he suggests that maybe he can take this trip for free, they tell him in no uncertain terms that he is pushing it too far!
Lunch is at an open air restaurant on top of a mountain. A new restaurant and the food is very good. They have a loo with a view! It’s a great opportunity to take some great photos and stretch the legs! Closer to Vang Vieng we drove through the valley with lots of villages where the cows roam freely and are the “kings” (or rather the Queens) of the road.
Our hotel is very comfortable with a big bedroom and spacious bathroom. We did an orientation walk through the town and ended up at a “sunset” bar on the river for a drink.
The bar was an interesting place: very long with a path of wooden planks through the middle and on each side a continuous 3 meter wide bench. The bench was divided into squares by a wooden rail which made for open little booths. Seating was on pillows around a table with very short legs. Lying at the table was the easiest, it was not so easy to sit and get your legs comfortable! The steps down to the bathroom were of wood and just placed against some rocks that were there in the landscape. We called it the “dungeon”. Very rough all, but it worked. The sunset was stunning!
Vang Vieng offers a lot of active sports such as kayaking, tubing, scenic caves, hiking, cycling, etc. The place has been a haven for young tourists who want to really live it up: drugs and alcohol were consumed in great quantities. Brian said it well: Vang Vieng has been infected by the worst of western culture. The situation has been cleaned up quite a bit, but you still experience the atmosphere downtown. There are no shops that sell handicrafts or gifts; just shops selling food, bike rentals, kayak outings, cubing tours, t-shirts etc.
We had dinner and all had a free drink because Sarah rolled a six on the dice in a special promotion at the bar! The end of another day in Laos!