Luang Prabang, Laos to Vientiane, Laos
16.08.2010 - 20.08.2010 32 °C
Vang Vieng is one town that we pulled into and were instantly like ‘why would anyone want to spend more than one day here’ but as we were leaving we wished we had some more time.
The town is overrun with backpackers – something we aren’t use to yet – English menu’s, flat screen TV’s with re-run’s of Friends and Family Guy, numerous bars and as many t-shirt shop’s as restaurants. The main thing to do in Vang Vieng is bar hop your way down the Nam Song River whilst steering an inflatable tube which is against all health and safety rules that nearly every other country would have in place. Alcohol and water shouldn’t be mixed but we gave it a go anyway as that’s what we came for.
As we left the hotel for breakfast, the clouds had covered the mountains and the rain was heavy. We were going to get wet on the tubes so we still decided to go, although lost a few others due to the fact ‘that they would get wet’ so we were now down to 8 of us.
The tubes were thrown on the roof of the tuk tuk and we were taken down stream to our first bar – one of many along the river. We decided to experience the tubing first so we skipped the first bar and headed onto the second but as the platform was approaching, it then dawned on us that we had no idea how to stop these things. Ropes were thrown from all angles with empty bottles on the end however Katie managed to miss this and ended up towards the end of the bar.
We wandered what we had got ourselves into when we looked around the bar and saw drunken Aussie’s, Brit’s and Kiwi’s but we managed to slip into the thick of things pretty quickly with local whiskey buckets and free snake whiskey. Bar 3 we had to ourselves before moving onto bar 4 where a flying fox was the main attraction and ‘beer pong’.
We cruised down the river with Ben losing his glasses – great place for this to happen - and ended up at the Mud Bar which is exactly what the name suggests – mud volleyball and mud wrestling. Oh what fun!!!
With time ticking by, we made our way to the last bar where the slide and cheesy music were the main focus. Thinking that the town was only around the corner, we left the bar and made our way to the finish point, only to be faced with a sign saying 2km to go but no sign saying where to get out so some of us stopped at the island and some of us cruised down trying to stop where ever they could. Now we know why people stay here for more than one day!
Vientiane, the capital of Laos was our next destination and it felt very much like a chilled out tropical town with dozens of temples dotted around the place, coffee shops dotted here and there and plenty of places to eat.
We enjoyed a day of cultural sightseeing in a tuk tuk and although some had opted for push bikes to ride out to the Buddha Park which was 25km away, we were very happy with our choice of transport.
We visited Wat Si Saket which is a Buddhist Wat and possible the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane as it was spared from the ‘Sacking of Vientiane’ in 1828 because of its Bangkok design. Our next stop was the Patuxai or know as Vientiane’s Arc de Triomphe. It was built to commemorate the Lao who died in the pre-revolutionary wars and was made from cement donated by the USA for the construction of an airport.
Pha That Luang or the Golden Stupa is Laos national monument and a symbol of Buddhist religion. The golden stupa that is seen today was built in 1931 as the one previously had been destroyed by treasure seekers. The stupa stands 45m tall and it wasn’t until we were standing virtually underneath it that it seemed that high. Opposite the stupa was a beautifully decorated Wat which is probably the most colourful one that we have seen so far. The pictures inside the open-air lounge were stunning.
Our last stop on our tuk tuk adventure was the Buddha Park which was miles outside of town and we weren’t surprised to see the cyclists on our way there and even on our way back although they did make it there in the end. It was worth the drive and as the name suggests, the area is full of Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes with additional heads, arms and feet and all sorts of weird things.
With Vientiane being the capital city, you were just about able to get everything here, even Vegemite but it had a nice price attached to it to. We also managed to track down a bowling alley for the night’s entertainment complete with very shining and slippery floors which Neill ended up on on his first go and now had a massive lump just under his knee which is turning black as the days go on.
Our remaining time in Vientiane was spent researching and booking our flights home from Singapore, lounging by the side of a pool which was superb, enjoying fantastic food and watching the sunset which has been the best we have seen so far.