By now, I am safely back in Germany, but I owe you at least two more entries: One of a conclusive kind and another one about our trip to Vang Vieng. This little town is pretty famous among backpackers as it used to be a party paradise. It was particularly well known for its tubing – that’s when you hire an old truck tire and float down the river in it; while drinking litres of Beerlao, home-brewed schnapps and god knows what else. There were floating bars and more bars at the river side and many opportunities for rope-swinging and jumping off wooden towers. The witty reader will think “Hang on, this is pretty much the opposite of the conservative Lao tradition!” and yes, indeed this binge drinking collided pretty badly with the Lao culture but it took more than just a couple of deaths and injuries until the government put an ending to these excesses. Alcohol and water (especially in the rainy season) are seldom a good idea… They teared down most bars, put a strict curfew on most other ones and now, there are only very few places left that are open until late (probably by bribing the police…). Still, the nightlife remains more exciting than Vientiane’s. The backpacker’s motto which they display proudly on their singlets is: DRINK TRIPLE, SEE DOUBLE, ACT SINGLE. No Comment…
Read here (first article is in German, second one in English) if you are interested in Vang Vieng’s wild past:
As for myself, I wasn’t drawn there because of the tubing. What attracted me were the impressive limestone mountains nearby. I literally just dumped my bags in the hostel before setting off to a late-afternoon hike. And what a beautiful one it was, the sunset up there was worth every drop of sweat! And because I felt rather energized than tired afterwards, I also went out until late.
The next day me and Bella, who had arrived after me, set off with a scooter. There are lots of caves in the area, you could not possibly see them all in one day. But our mind was set on something else anyways: A morning swim. Which is why I was fairly disappointed when I saw a provisional warning sign in front of the completely collapsed bridge which should have brought us closer to one of the lagoons. Oh man…. Lucky for us, the water was shallow enough to wade through though and on the other side, a single Tuktuk driver spent all his day driving tourist from the bridge to the Lagoon – in the most ramshackle vehicle I have encountered in Lao 😀 It was worth the bumpy ride: We were the first to arrive and had the whole pool to ourselves. Some bellyflops and many laughs later (check out the video) we headed for another lagoon which was more of a party spot than anything else. But we just walked past the crowd and climbed upwards to an enormous cave. In some places, it was pitch-black and there were only a few spray-painted arrows on the rocks to guide you deeper into the mountain. Very impressive.
All in all, was a great day: I loved cruising through the rice fields and I wish we had had more time for more hiking and caving. Way too soon, the sun was setting and we were back in our hostel. Of course, only for a shower and a quick nap before going out again; Vang Vieng really is fun and I actually bumped into people from the Gibbon Tour again! Small world.
After yet another brilliant night, I got up early to go rock-climbing. Lack of sleep or not, it would be rude not to. The tour reminded me how much I want to pursue this hobby. I just love pushing myself higher and higher and climbing is just such a perfect complement to hiking. I came back exhausted but happy and devoured my lunch like a starving lioness. Way too soon after that, it was time to head back to Vientiane because we celebrated Ingrid’s farewell that night. Part of me wished I had had the time to go to Vang Vieng more often… It’s so close to Vientiane and has so much more to offer in my opinion. And I don’t even mean the nightlife. It’s a perfect spot for any sort of outdoor activity! I was extremely happy to spent my last weekend in Lao there and take some more great memories with me.
I will try to write a Lao wrap-up soon, excuse the delay. After that, you’ll have to wait patiently until my next adventure. Don’t like it? Well, good news: Sebastian will soon use this platform for publishing his stories from Lesotho! Stay tuned, folks.