26th – 29th April 2016
I will just start by saying I LOVED Vang Vieng and not for the reasons that people probably think – VV is known mainly for tubing and also a place to get insanely drunk but it is also incredibly beautiful and there is so much to do! I did not however love the journey to Vang Vieng…
We woke up early Tuesday morning with the worst hangovers and had to quickly pack our bags and leave to catch our minibus to VV. It was already insanely hot and we were squashed into this minibus next to some very interesting people… I will leave it at that. The journey took around 7 hours along the worst roads you could ever possibly imagine, I’m talking twists and turns every 30 seconds and bumps, lots and lots of bumps. We both felt ill the WHOLE way it was horrific.
Anyway when we finally arrived we headed straight for the main road to find some accommodation for the night. We ended up staying at ‘Central Backpackers’ and it couldn’t have been more perfect. We managed to get a private room for only £4 a night. The room was luxurious compared to what we had stayed in the previous few nights and was a god send as Daniel ended up with food poisoning the whole 4 days so it was nice for him to have a comfy room to stay in.
Wednesday I went out for a walk around the town and also brought tickets to go to the elephant cave, water cave tubing, kayaking and to the blue lagoon. Daniel was still ill in bed so I went out for dinner on my own – in VV all the restaurants/bars play the TV show ‘friends’ ALL day so I found one and went and got dinner and a beer and watched friends for a few hours, it was actually a really nice evening.
Thursday was the day we had booked all our activities for. Daniel still wasn’t feeling great but decided to come anyway. We were picked up from our hostel at 9 and drove out to the water caves. We were in a group of about 10 plus our guide – we all grabbed rubber rings, put our head torches on and lined up in the water next to a rope which we were going to be pulling ourselves through the caves with. It took about half an hour to reach the further point in the cave. At some points we had to stand up and walk as the water was so shallow (it’s currently dry season) but it was so much fun and when other groups passed us we all started kicking and splashing trying to soak everyone. After the caves we went and had lunch which was included in the ticket and then we started to walk back to the van stopping at the elephant cave on the way. I was pretty unimpressed with the cave if I’m honest it really wasn’t anything special but as always it’s another thing ticked off the list.
We were on the way to the Nam Song river to do some kayaking and Daniel had started to feel really really ill again and was literally hanging out the back of the van being sick. When we got to the river the driver said he would drop him back to the hostel which we thought was best as he really wasn’t well and it was so hot. This meant I was paired with our guide for the kayaking. We had been on the river all of 5 minutes and everything was going smoothly (I am a pretty good kayaker ya know) when our guide starts shouting to everyone ‘stay left stay left, do not go right do not go right!! If you go right you will capsize’ The river was about to fork up ahead for about 100m before it rejoined – the left was nice and calm and the right side was a steep drop and rapids. I turned around and said ‘which way are we going’ to which he replied ‘we go right’ Instantly I thought UH OH… but then thought no it will be fine he knows what he’s doing right? Right? Turns out no… he didn’t. We started to approach the drop and he started paddling like crazy, we went hurtling down towards the river bank going too fast to turn the corner and ended up capsizing and then being dragged along the river. We finally managed to stop and grab the kayak and my clothes but my sunglasses had long gone :(. I had cuts and grazes all over me and my foot was throbbing. As we climbed back into the kayak there was blood pouring from my foot, my guide looked slightly panicstricken which was very reassuring… and said ‘quick quick we need to paddle to the next bar’ When we got there him and the bar owner cleaned it all and covered it, drama over. The rest of the afternoon kayaking down the river was very peaceful and the scenery surrounding us was incredible – the river, much like the town of Vang Vieng itself is lined with huge dramatic karst rock formations. It was stunning and was hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It took us about an hour and a half for us to get down the river including us stopping at one of the bars. Apparently in the rainy season it can take as little as 10 minutes to get down the river!
After the kayaking we said bye to our guide and carried on to the blue lagoon which was about a 15 minute drive from VV. I was really looking forward to the blue lagoon but it was a shame because the girls I had got friendly with hadn’t booked to go so after kayaking I had to say bye to them which meant when we got the the blue lagoon I didn’t actually go in as I didn’t have anywhere/anyone to leave my stuff with. I sat on the edge and dangled my feet in but it wasn’t the same as being able to go in for a swim or jump off the tree or rope swing into the water. I got some really good pictures though and it was funny to sit and watch people too scared to jump off the tree into the water (it was pretty high to be fair but one girl took about 20 minutes to pluck up the courage to jump!)
We were supposed to be getting the bus to Vietnam the following day but as Daniel was so ill we decided that a 26 hour bus was definitely not what he needed. The next morning Daniel still wasn’t 100% so not getting the bus was a good idea. Daniel spent the day in bed and I had a lazy day doing some washing, repacked my bag, had a walk around the town and also booked our bus tickets to Vietnam for the following day.
Saturday morning we were up early ready to leave for Vietnam – we were getting a minibus to Vientiane, Laos’s capital and then changing onto a sleeper bus which would take us all the way to Hue, Vietnam. We were dreading the journey to Vientiane as the journey from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng had been so bad but it was actually fine (we did break down once but the guy sorted it pretty quickly) and only took about 4 hours. We arrived around 2pm and were told we had to wait until 4pm before the tuk tuk would take us to the bus station. We found a restaurant and went and sat in there to pass the time. At 4 the tuk tuk picked us up along with a few others and took us to the bus station. Daniel still wasn’t feeling great and I wasn’t either (turns out I had a urine infection) so when we boarded the bus and the guy pointed us to these seats which I can only describe as being in the god dam boot… I’m being serious… I just started laughing and crying at the same time. The bus was half empty and he wouldn’t let us move seats, well beds, I was so pissed off. We stopped off a few times throughout the night at places where we could use the toilet and buy snacks and drinks. At around 4am we stopped at this house come shop and we were all told to get off the bus and go and sit in there. All of a sudden the bus just pulls away with all our bags on it, I jumped up to start running but Daniel said he heard them say we needed to wait in this shop. A man came over and said that at 7am we could walk with him down to the border ready to cross into Vietnam when it opened. All I could think was there was no bloody way I was waiting in this dump for 3 hours. The woman even tried to charge us to use the toilet which I know is normal out here and usually I would pay but we were the only white people and she hadn’t tried to charge anyone else! When she wasn’t looking I ran past and used it for free… Ha in your face bitch.
After about half an hour the guy tells us we need to walk down to the border… it was only 4.30am but happy to be leaving the shop I was more than willing to go. We got to the border 10 minutes later to see our bus in the que for when the bordered opened. Why they couldn’t have let us stay on the bus to the border I don’t know but then they wouldn’t let us back on the bus so we had to sit on tiny plastic chairs on the side of the road until 7am. We were not impressed. Anyway we finally made it through the border and got back on our bus for the final leg to Hue. When we arrived in Hue we were just pushed of the bus and they gave our big bags to 2 taxi motorcycles so we had to jump on the back. It cost us about £3 each which was a complete con but we didn’t really have any other choice and to be honest it was so hot we were just glad that we had finally arrived!
Hellooooo Vietnam 🙂