Due to time constraints and the fact that northern vietnam was covered in rain and fog, we decided to avoid ha long as visibility we were told, was awful. So to laos we went. The bus stopped at the border, we sorted out visa, faffed about with money and conversions and border control trying to scam us, and into laos we went - pouring with rain around 7am. Of course the bus has already gone to the border cafe... 1 km down the road, so in flip flops, shorts, t shirts and with minimal sleep, off we plodded in the rain, on the dirt track to the bus - WELCOME TO LAOS :D.
First stop the capital vientianne. This place is used mostly by travellers as a stop off point... and with us quite the same. There was little to do here so we booked into our hostel/prison cell for the night, and first thing in the morning we got a bus to vang vieng. This place really did make the previous journey all worth it. It is a smallish town completely full of tourists. The attraction is the river, and the massive tubing and kayaking industry on it. We hired a tube, tuk tuked to the tubing area and off we went. The catch here, was that we COULD ride the river all the way back to town, or we could simply go on a bar crawl in the many bars that lined the rivers length. For a distance of upto 700 metres, there were various wooden huts, platforms, loud speakers and free shots. Before we evn touched the water, we got ourselves a bucket of 'lao lao' (g-d knows wat was in it but it was bright yellow), this followed by a couple of free shots. We finally got into the river, riding out tubes about 3 metres, before someone threw a rope to us and pulled us into another bar. Some free shots later, trying to prove our worth throwing a bucket into a tyre (we failed) and getting nostalgic over freshers week, off we went to ANOTHER bar. On the other side of the river we got free shots (again) and free chips. Each bar also had high zip wires and high swings, where you climbed up around 8 metres or so, held on and swung high above the river. We were assured it was safe as the river had been newly dredged (unlike last year when the rocks were dangerously near the surface and ppl came away with broken legs). We also played beer pong with a random austrian guy called Flo. Needless to say me and Flo beat Alec and Emily :D.
Anyhoo, after losing the waterproof pouch that hung round my neck (which had my camera and money in it) getting pissed, finding my waterproof couch under one of the wooden floors of a bar, and getting euphoric, off we went down the river again. It was getting a bit late and alcohol was still flowing thick threw our veins. We bounced along the rapids and eventually pulled up to 'the last bar' and tuk tukked home.
Next day we ventured onto the river again for a spot of kayakking. It was a 10km run, and once again we stopped for a break... in the tubing area. So i went on the high swings again (this time sober and was far from brave) and got a bit of lunch before the final 5km stint.
Dinner was a VERY heavy indian and now im stuffed, i ache and im going to a bar tonight to meet with people i met earlier on the river. With a 9am start 2moz, things will not be pretty.... Its such a hard life :P. 2moz we going to luang probang which is meant to be better than vang vieng in terms of scenery. The whole tubing area was surrounded by stunning tree covered mountains so it may be hard to beat...