Day 07 - Wednesday, Oct 29, 2003
Vang Vieng

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- Vang Vieng -

8:41 AM 8:51 AM 10:39 AM 10:47 AM 10:59 AM 11:06 AM
11:13 AM 11:13 AM 11:24 AM 11:24 AM
6:30 AM, cocks crowing intermittently. Dodo's book has been swept up by a tourist.
Ruth sleeps in, Claire, Dan and Dodo breakfast by the river on a 2nd story deck over chicken coop (baguette and scrambled eggs, good coffee, garishly colored OJ). Walked across the bamboo bridge (1,000 kip apiece at the "toll booth" in the middle, a little hut with someone reclining on a mat) and then discovered we had to wade a bit (to the terminus of the downstream bridge, which workmen were still building or repairing) so we took our boots off and waded.
That was when we met Will. Will was from Leeds, and had been traveling in China for the past month. Claire and Ruth later pointed out that he looks like Baldrick. He had been on our van to Vang Vieng, but we hadn't talked till now. He was wandering lost on his own, and we had the little xerox-and-crayon map we'd bought in VV, so he joined us for a walk to the (Ang Ngeun) caves.

Map - Vang Vieng Caves

- Walk to Ang Ngeun Cave 2 -

A pretty walk along a dirt/gravel road (no cars on this side of the river) and then concrete-reinforced rim path between/through rice fields. At a wooden shelter, we paid an old man 7,000 kip apiece, and received tickets and a clunky flashlight with big battery, which Will used. The guide walked along with us until we were within sight of the place where the path forked. "Cave one, cave two," he said, pointing, then left us.

More Walk to Ang Ngeun Cave 2 Pictures

- Ang Ngeun Cave 2 -

11:37 AM 11:40 AM 11:46 AM 11:48 AM 11:51 AM Dan Squirming Out of Crawl Space 11:56 AM
We did Cave 2 first and were glad, as Cave 1 was bigger and more spectacular. But both were splendid, covered in limestone formations, like tentacles and elephants and brain coral, soda straws and rimstone, and nothing to keep us from crawling all around in every part we could reach. One very big spider in Cave 2; a snakey lizard in a hole in Cave 1; lots of mud-daubed handprints and writing by tourists. Claustrophobic Claire was a great sport; she even snuck into the first cave ahead of us so she could jump out and scare us, but we couldn't believe she'd gone in alone, so we stood outside it yelling her name into the jungle until she gave up and resurfaced, laughing.

More Ang Ngeun Cave 2 Pictures

- Walk from Ang Ngeun 2 to Ang Ngeun 1 -

12:00 PM 12:03 PM 12:04 PM 12:04 PM 12:07 PM

More Walk from Ang Ngeun 2 to Ang Ngeun 1 Pictures

- Ang Ngeun Cave 1 -

12:11 PM 12:15 PM Claire, Will & Dan 12:19 PM 12:20 PM 12:21 PM 12:22 PM
12:24 PM 12:26 PM 12:29 PM 12:30 PM 12:39 PM 12:44 PM 12:46 PM
Will 1:01 PM 1:08 PM 1:29 PM
And in the second cave, which was up the side of the karst a ways and had a magnificent view from outside it (so we stopped and took pics, ate rice crackers and drank water), Will suggested we turn off all the lights and stand in total darkness, which was a lot of giggly fun. Actually Dan and Dodo had done that already, briefly; we spent a lot more time exploring underground than W and C.

More Ang Ngeun Cave 1 Pictures

- Back to Vang Vieng -

1:51 PM 2:06 PM Dragon Flies on Bridge
But we all headed back muddy and pleased, and took off our shoes again for the wade to the bridge. Dodo bought some flipflops in the market for 70 cents and we got Ruth and went tubing.
25,000 kip (less than $2.50) for a tuk-tuk ride up the river 4 kilometers and a big innertube (painted pale colors against the hot sun, which unfortunately went behind a nice rain cloud as soon as we hit the river). It was really good silly fun, and a cooling lazy trip, but we were quite cold by the time we got out (2 hours later) - Will and Dodo were shivering. We stopped once and an old laughing woman helped us out with a bamboo pole and sold us Beerlao and laughed at our antics. Then we passed several bigger, kayaker-crowded riverside beer places, one with a bamboo diving tower and one high on the bank with a concrete platform for "Beerlao jumping" (no bungee as we'd guessed, just jumping in the river from a height). Our little spot was much nicer, just us and some local farmers who bummed a smoke off Dan and sat down to chop up bamboo stalks with a machete.
We got rained on a tiny bit, which made Dodo briefly unhappy but made Will laugh pretty hard at "the sight of you sat there in the rain." It was a gorgeous unfolding view of foliage and karsts, though. And the put-in point was by the organic farm whose restaurant we ate in the other night. They also have a guesthouse up by the farm. We said goodbye to Will after tubing and mentioned Beergarden later but didn't see him.
Hot showers! Dan and Dodo shared, and rinsed out/washed our clothes while trading time under the hot water.
Back to the End of the World Bar for dinner - yellow noodles with tofu and veggies, lovely mild dish, lots of crisp runner beans and carrot. Coffee-banana shakes (Lao alcohol in Dodo's 2nd). Much merriment. Dodo succeeded, after several repetitions of the wrong pronunciation, at saying saep, which Claire's guide book called "delicious" but which is also half of the phrase it calls "bon appetit" so who knows what it means exactly. Our book is dreadful and doesn't have either word... or Vang Vieng at all, except 1 picture of the karsts in the mist.

- Night in Vang Vieng -

So after a long leisurely lovely dinner again, we all 4 went to the Xayoh Beergarden, where Ruth headed upstairs for a traditional Lao massage (a visually-impaired woman had her put on loose white PJs and gave her something like a series of chiropractic adjustments, while at the next table a visually-impaired man did the same to a male client). Dan, Claire and Dodo had Long Island iced teas and chattered about books. Ruth came back after an hour, in time for round 3 (but declined the Long Island, had a rum and coke instead) and we heard about her massage and chatted about whatever. Stayed till last call. Dodo had a delicious crepe with lemon juice and sugar on it, prepared fresh at a little roadside cart (the main strip in VV is all restaurant/guesthouses advertising pizza and adventure tours, and at night there are all these little crepe carts along the street. But not a wild nightlife town as last call is 11).
Then we bought water and Beerlao at the front desk of our guesthouse, got the Johnny Walker from our room, and sat on the terrace getting drunk and silly until about 3, when Ruth and Dan went to bed, and Claire and Dodo went walking in the dark to the wat. (Much giggling. 4 or 4:30 to bed?)

More Night in Vang Vieng Pictures


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