Saturday, June 8, 2013

Vang Vieng, previously capital of tubing...

Reading the lonely planet, VV is where hordes of backpackers ride the quiet Mekong river on caoutchouc tubes, stopping on a very regular basis at bars along the river. Except that the government recently got fed up with the number of accidents and the amount of drugs and decided to close all the river bars and that killed the tubing as well! (Apparently tubing sober was not that much fun)
So we arrived in a town that used to be a major party place and which has recently turned back to being a quiet little Lao place.

We had a lovely room with balcony looking over the Mekong and the impressive limestone rocks, a bit of a reminder from Krabi or Halong bay.
The area is also known for its caves so we rented our first motorbike of the holidays and started exploring. We were assisted by a local who took us around, no choice there is not a single sign and finding the entrance of the caves requires to cross (dry) rice paddies and climb over gates!
The caves are really bare, no sign, no handrail, no light but they are huge, massive stalagmites, columns and a few Buddhas here and there as well.  After a rather long walk in the cave, our host points at a really small opening explaining that we could go on for 2 km on our knees in the water and I think he really expected us to go! We politely declined and decided to go for a well deserved lunch (and a nap, after all we are in Laos, it's a national sport)

The second location for caves was more touristy as there was a lagoon to go for a swim. I'm actually not sure people were making it to the cave.
No local to take us around the cave and we actually had to give up. There were a couple of red arrows on the wall, but it was wet, we were wearing flip flop (as you do when you go caving...) and following the way was quite an exercise, we had to go over, under rocks, pull ourselves through small gaps, not sure how long we could have safely gone on...

After that rather sweaty and dirty (it was difficult to tell that my shorts were originally cream) exercise, I decided to take the next day off and just watch R climb. Limestone cliff= climbing!
My take -it-easy day was actually not that easy as we had to walk through the jungle and climb the first part of the cliff before getting to the climbing routes, I should have worn again this not so cream anymore shorts...
The view was actually breathtaking from the starting point so it was well worth coming up.

And that's the end of our VV experience, after climbing it was time (for a shower) to move to Luang Prabang through the so pleasant 6h drive in a mini bus... (See previous post on transport)

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