Patrick and Andrea Take on the World travel blog

Vang Vieng - Our back country transportation ( sweet basket hey? )

Near Vang Vieng - Typical Laoation village

Vang Vieng - Caving

Clif jumping on the way to Vientiane (thats me at the top...

From Phonsavan we took a mini bus over to Vang Vieng, a little piece of Laos paradise turned into a bit of a traveller's ghetto. This little town sits on the shores of the Nam Xong, Laos' second largest river, and the people of the village have definitely capitalized on the tourists' love of water activities, specifically tubing. A number of places will take travellers three km up river, provide them with an inner tube, then set them lose. A float down river back into town takes about 3 hours, depending how much time you spend at the riverside bars. Savvy entrepreneurs, the Lao realize tourists love Beer Laos, so what better place to sell it than off the riverbanks? And thus, riverside bars, where the locals will pull you off the river so you can stock up on beer. Rumour has it you will also be offered Opium and Marijuana, but apparently we were looking too clean cut for all that!

As you float down the river, numerous caves are marked - we stopped to explore one, and luckily happened to land there at the same time as a little family from Singapore, with a guide. With the guide's help we waded deep into the cave and explored a number of different rooms where people hid during the war...pretty interesting. However, what really impressed me was the family we were tagging along with - the lady was packing their three month old baby, the man was touting the three year old, and their six year old was climbing along about a family that played together! I was definitely inspired!

We spent four nights in Vang Vieng, hanging out, biking, caving, and enjoying what felt like a bit of a break from travelling. All the restaurants showed non-stop episodes of Friends in the afternoons, so we took one day and indulged on pure sitcom drama...afterwards, it felt a bit like we had overdosed on something super sweet!

From Vang Vieng, we headed to Vientiane, capital city of Laos. While a local bus was available, we opted to kayak - an hour in the back of one of the local truck/buses, then four hours kayaking down the Mekong, followed by a final hour in the local truck/bus. What a beautiful way to travel! The river cuts deep into the rocks of the thick jungle that covers Laos, and as we travelled we passed numerous people living off the river(fishing, transporting firewood, camping). The river ride included a pass through a number of rapids, averaging a grade 2 or 3, and while the people who sold us the ticket assured us this was a fine ride for beginners, we still managed to flip our kayak in the biggest rapid. Patrick had a navigation strategy, but somehow we strayed and alas and alak, my dear hubbie lost his wedding band. Let our learnings be a lesson to all: titanium rings can not be sized, and fingers shrink when emerged in cold water. However, we survived the flip with no bodily injuries, and completed our journey without incident.

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