Oh La Laos!

4 Mar
Night Market in Vientiane, Laos

night market in Vientiane, Laos

I was ready to say goodbye to Vietnam. We heard such amazing things about Loas and we were to keep moving forward. We headed straight for the capital city – Vientiane. There isn’t so much to do in Vientiane, but we did rent bicycles for the day and found this amazing herbal sauna and spa. We thought we broke in to some Monk village and were not sure if women were allowed to talk to a Monk – but thankfully, two monks approached us and lead us in the right direction. Thanks boys!

For $6, we enjoyed the steamiest, rustic herbal sauna and shared hot green tea with a bunch of local Lao women – including a lady boy. Side note: A lady boy is the term given to cross-dresses in Asia. They are so convincingly feminine! We ended the afternoon with a 60 minute traditional massage. Bliss. I never sweated so much in my life and the massage was backcracking-ly authentic.

The next day, we left for Vang Vieng – famous for it’s tubing. Tubing entails floating down a river on a tube and getting wasted – it’s a fairly simple process 🙂 There are makeshift bars set up all along the river bank who throw ropes out and reel you in for one bucket too many. That’s right… the BUCKETS return! Stefanie and I prolonged this activity for as long as possible. Vang Vieng is also famous for its caves and we wanted to try something new. We decided caves first, drinking later!

The day we arrived, we were walking alongside the river discussing what to do. We saw a bunch of guys and two girls on motorbikes and asked them if they were heading to the Blue Lagoon – we wanted to figure out where everything was and if they were, we were definitely keen on getting directions. Instead, they asked us to hop on the back of their bikes and tag along. Stef and I exchanged glances and simultaneously agreed. I was wearing a summer dress that got tighter around the legs and so, I could not straddle – instead I had to sit side-saddle. The boys loved it – calling me very lady-like and classy… although it was the only option I had. Off we went, despite questioning my awkward balancing act.

Blue Lagoon in Vang Vieng Laos

The Blue Lagoon is picturesque – a small deep blue, clear river with a large, looming tree providing the perfect base for jumping in. There were rope swings attached to tree as well – which I avoided after seeing the guys get ridiculous rope burns. Instead, I jumped from high atop the tree branches. It’s so invigorating. The water was fresh and cool and after a few jumps and paddles – we headed back to town before sunset.

We met up with our motorbike posse of 8 – an even number of guys and girls – and had dinner and too many drinks. There was this drunk guy from England named Kerry who kept buying me and this one guy shots of Tequila – we had 4 rounds before Stefanie joined us in the celebration and another round was bought. Kerry paid for it all. What a nice guy!

It rained all the next day, but Stefanie and I were convinced that it would clear up. We rented a motorbike and set out for a day of caving. The first cave was amazing! It was a swim-through cave that was recommended to us by an Aussie guy. His father owned a hostel in the area. At first glance, you wouldn’t think you could swim into it – but Stef and I were determined and sunk in

to the shallow pool. The entrance was small – maybe 2 metres high and one metre wide. I had my head torch on and off we went. The water was really deep and if you needed a break, you had to cling onto the rock walls. I felt like a water-deranged spider. The cave kept going and going! Stefanie and I were worried about swimming too far in because no one even knew we were in there. The water was so clear and blue and when you took a photo using flash, you could see that the cave walls were this rich rust colour – really beautiful!

caves in Vang Vieng, Laos

When we finally swam out, there were a bunch of local Loa people and Asian tourists pointing at us and taking photographs. They were stunned! We left the cave and drove out onto a dirt road. The rain became worse and it was really muddy. Our back tire kept getting stuck. We had three little accidents. We didn’t completely wipe out – but were very, very close. Ok, well we did wipe out once fairly bad. I burned my leg on the exhaust pipe, but that was the extent of my injuries.

Still determined to see one more cave, Stefanie drove out onto some farm land and I walked along side her. We paid the $1.50 to enter the small cave and crawled in for about 15 minutes – up and down! It was creepy and mid-way through – Stefanie told me not to touch the walls. I asked her why not, and she wouldn’t give me the reason. Once we were out, she told me she saw a giant spider with glowing eyes. Well, thanks for the tip friend!

On our way back, the motorbike stopped running and wouldn’t start. Some local men tried to manually start it, but it wasn’t working. I was getting a little nervous. We did NOT want to pay for any damages. Finally, the men got it running and Stefanie and I slowly made our way back to the rental place. Thankfully, they didn’t try starting it and once they gave Stef her passport back, we made a quick, but stealthy exit.

We were covered in mud – legs mostly – so we quickly showered and met up with our Aussie bunch. Their hostel had this great set up in the back with low lights and hammocks, so we ended up hanging out there most of the night having iPod wars.The boys were leaving the next morning on a 3-day kayaking trip – so we had to say our goodbyes.

Stefanie and I finally decided to do the tubing on our last day in Vang Vieng. Initially, we weren’t too thrilled about drinking and decided to have one drink and maybe a fruit shake. It never happens like that though. Tubing is one giant party. There are people so wasted, you wonder how they are even standing. There are also a lot of people just drinking and relaxing in the river. Some bars have giant trapez swings and slides – definitely a thrill but I wasn’t in the mood, especially after watching a bunch of people body smack into the water. I suppose you really have to be drunk to bear the pain – not recommended though.

We didn’t even make it down the river and had to take a tuk-tuk back to the rental place to get our deposit back in time. I can see how you can get stuck there. It’s another world.

I was super exhausted from the last few days and went to sleep at 9pm that night. Stefanie ended up going out with some people we met while tubing. The next morning, we left for Luang Prabang – a quaint French-inspired

town in North Eastern Loas. We met 3 Canadian guys and shared a tuk-tuk to an amazing waterfall with natural swimming pools. The five of us spent the day jumping off waterfall cliffs and hiking. There were these freaky fish in the water that would bite your scabs. One bit my motorcycle burn scab right off! A huge chunk! After that, I was a little paranoid.

Today we are taking a grueling 18 hour bus trip back to Thailand and it’s not even a sleeping bus! We are heading for Chiang Mai – a great base for elephant trekking and visiting minority villages. I cannot wait to see some elephants! I also can’t believe I have one week left in Asia. This trip has gone by amazingly fast – more than any other trip I’ve taken. I will update again from Bangkok before taking off.

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