Laos is definitely my favourite country so far on this trip. Winding mountain roads, covered either side with palm trees, rivers and cattle. This experience is what I came travelling for.
Driving north to Vang Vieng from Vientiane was quite something. The minibus was comfortable but zooming over pot holes and overtaking on sharp bends seemed a bit hazardous. It was the roughest journey to date; I’ve earned my stripes! A dodgy bus journey is a must-do at least once. All of us were shattered, but sleeping was impossible!
Upon arriving in Vang Vieng and seeing how rubbish my hostel was once again, I decided to find a nice spot for a bit of lunch. This was the view – how amazing?!
I went back later to the same place, with an English chap I befriended from my hostel – Mike from London. The views at sunset were even more stunning and we shared a “jug” aka a ceramic pot of whiskey. Whiskey is a BIG thing in Laos. As are Koreans.
The next day Mike and I went onto a day tour that involved kayaking along the Nam Song River, cave tubing, caving, zip lining, more kayaking, and visiting the Blue Lagoon.
I have so many photos from my GoPro from kayaking, here are a few that really captured the scenery:
It seems the locals love old skool rock music. Whilst kayaking, our tour guide randomly burst out into song, trying his best to remember the words to In The End by Linkin Park. A memorable moment for sure – my “what the…?!” and the internal giggles than ensued.
Getting a good rhythm, we powered on down the river. And we tried to stay away from other kayakers who posed a potential risk of crashing into us!
Next we went cave tubing, and I made sure I was prepared for the affair.
It was really dark in the cave, and the head torch didn’t really do much. So I only got the odd photo.
We wandered around the cave, which was hard work. Not only was it dark, but it was muddy with small passageways to meander through too. It was a relief to come out the other side, especially as it was time to go zip lining.
We had to climb up the mountain (I say climb, some dodgy steps but we were in flip flops so it was pretty tricky!), which was pretty exhausting after 90 minutes of kayaking and caving. My heart already racing just from the climb to the top, so I felt a bit anxious. I went first and it was a pretty long ride to the next stop, but once I got into the swing of things (pun intended!) I felt so much better and loved it. I had no idea how high up we were, but it brushed over the tree tops of the jungle. The views were utterly spectacular.
After zip lining, I had worked up a good appetite. And the lunch provided by the tour was so pretty, wrapped up in a little pouch. Tasty too!
The view from the restaurant was really special. The wires going across are some zip line wires, which I flew across.
After lunch we went kayaking again, and then set off on a tuk tuk to the Blue Lagoon. It’s the place to go to jump into the lagoon from a tree with branches of varying heights. And I wasn’t going to turn the opportunity down to jump from the highest point.
Here is Mike jumping off the tree – you can see how high it is!
And here’s me up the tree, wondering whether I made the right decision. Those who know me would appreciate how far I’ve come along with my water fear. Last summer was the first time I jumped off a boat, six months later, I’m jumping off branches 10m high. I definitely need to work on my jumping techniques.
Yesterday we went tubing! So much fun, and a bit crazy. Hundreds of people floating along the river in tubes, all talking, laughing and singing together. Along the way we saw locals fishing or bathing in the water, giving us smiles and waves along the way.
Along the tubing route, you stop off at bars. I found cider and was so happy! I bought one for the bar and one for the road 🙂
As I said previously, Vang Vieng is full of Koreans. They are so lovely and friendly, plus they love to party! This lad was so sweet, and looked very cool in his outfit too. Coincidentally, he is sat near me right now in a restaurant as I’m writing this.
It took a total of four hours to tube along the Nam Song, stopping off at two bars along the way. It was amazing fun; so chilled and relaxed. Vang Vieng has such a bad reputation, but one doesn’t need to misbehave to get involved in the action. I’m DEFINITELY coming back here again within the next few years.
At the moment I’m sat in a restaurant with mountain views, in the delightful fresh air drinking a pineapple smoothie. It’s special.
Next stop, a six-eight hour bumpy bus ride to Luang Prabang in northern Laos – my last stop in Laos before I head back to Thailand.