09 February 2011

Laos II

(View the rest of the photos here)

The riverfront at Vang Vieng

This picture sums up Vang Vieng pretty well for me. The town winds along the river, with looming mountains to the east and west. One side of the river has posh hotels perched all along the river, the other seems to be where most of the locals live, and herd their cattle along the riverbank. The bridge between the two is cheekily privately owned, lucky for us it was the dry season or our stubborn free river crossing may not have ended so well. The river is a crazy shade of red due to some roadworks upriver spilling clay into the water.

Pay to cross the bridge?? No thanks, we'll wade...

Yes, the river really was this red.
Our adventures in Vang Vieng included rockclimbing both sides of a small canyon, which was very cool. Our climbing buddies were 3 Dutch girls who had obviously gone shopping together for the most high tech sporting equipment before going overseas - however, it didn't help them reach the top, unlike the scrappy tenacious Aussies. Our climbing guides knew the wall so well they practically talked us to the top. I particularly liked the tree roots from the fig trees at the top which made their way casually down the cliff all the way to the bottom. After 4 not super difficult climbs we were feeling pretty hardcore.

Rock climbing with the Dutch Goddesses and all their matching sporting gear
That speck near the top is me!
Of course, we spent our fair share of time in cafes, admiring the view. :)

This should have been a nice photo.

Onto the tubing phenomenon. It's what Vang Vieng is famous for - which is a little bit strange, given how beautiful the town and it's surrounds are. People hire a tractor inner tube, are packed onto the back of a truck and dropped 3km out of town, to float their way from riverfront bar to riverfront bar back to town. This sounds quite peaceful but the bars are fairly crazy, serving buckets of spirits and providing entertainment such as tall things to leap off and flying foxes into the river. Unsurprisingly, people die every year!

Bamboo Adventure World for drunken grown-ups
We chose to kayak part of the way to the capital, Vientiane, rather than catch the bus the whole way. This was an awesome experience. We paddled about 20km but it felt like 5 because the river was flowing so quickly. Except for the bit where Natalia and I were almost swept down the wrong fork while the rest of our crew paddled merrily on without noticing we weren't there. During our lunch stop I bravely leapt off a fairly tall rock into the river.

Kayaking is a much preferable method of transport
Contemplating the worst case scenario before jumping of an 8m cliff (into the river)
We only spent one day in Vientiane. It's a nice city, but fairly uninspiring (hence no photos). We had an awesome night with Andy, a med student we met rock climbing, and Will, the Laos national basketball team coach (don't snigger). They had both recently settled themselves in Laos so we followed their lead to great food and bottles of BeerLaos before flying out the following day. 

Well that's about it - thanks for reading and perusing my photos :)
over and out

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