Vang Vieng and Vientiane

Date: 19/04/2007 | Author: Dave

Before getting to Vang Vieng we had heard that this town was full of restaurants and bars with reclining foreigners watching re-runs of Friends. Unbelievable - almost. After a long winding scenic drive over the mountains we slid into town and it was worse than I had imagined. That night we chose to recline for dinner in an establishment screening The Simpsons very loudly, with the added bonus of being able to simultaneously watch Friends on four TVs right across the road. How did they get it so wrong? For added convenience every restaurant in town has an identical menu. This is a paradise for the unimaginative.
We are staying at Ban Sabai Bungalows, which is on the river, thankfully, 10 minutes walk out of town. Nice location! The views around Vang Vieng are amazing. A range of precipitous mountains run north from here and is riddled with caves.
We have only one day here and we make the most of it. For US$13 each we have an excellent day out. We are taken first, to four very different caves. One of them is large and safely housed 400 people during the early 70's while bombs rained down. Another cave is half full of water with a narrow entrance. We went about 300m into this cave, using rubber tyre tubes, both paddling and pulling on ropes against the current. It was (of course) pitch black and the few head lamps they supplied only worked intermittently. The girls loved this cave. Their bravery never ceases to amaze me!
The highlight of this day was tubing down the Nam Song river back toward town, past giant rope swings and busy bars all selling our favourite thirst quencher, Beerlao. Fun for all the family this tubing. "Just remember to raise your bum a bit in the rapids" is my only advice. BBQ lunch served on banana leaves included - a great day out.
Our trusty mini bus driver (Khone's brother) picks us up from Xoyah Bungalows the next morning and we move on to Vientiane. Despite this road being a lot straighter than the mountain crossing he is now driving maximum 30km/hr and we never work out why. By afternoon end we arrive at the Settha Palace. A grand hotel with high ceilings and hallways that you could could reverse a London Bus through. The pool is reputedly the nicest in town and while the girls immerse, Gabby and I get on with our chores. We need to post about 10kgs home. Our bags are bulging and we are flying to Cambodia tomorrow.

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