Vang Vieng

So now I'm in Vang Vieng - a small town filled with backpackers. Some people compare this town to Khao San Road i Bangkok, which is not a good thing I would guess. Khao San Road is the backpackers area, which is overdeveloped, filled with bars and backpackers and a great way to spend a couple of days in Bangkok without ever seeing anything of Thailand or the Thai culture. I can see why they compare Vang Vieng to this, but I don't agree. Sure there are lots of backpackers. Sure the town is filled with bars showing Friends at large TV's, lots of guesthouses and bungalows offering rooms for $3 and upwards, restaurants letting you choose between Lao, Thai, Indian, Israeli or Western (burgers, pizza (yes, of course they have the happy version as well)) food and internet cafes with brand new computers. But still there's a certain charm to it. It is a relaxed feeling and a feeling of genuine welcoming from the locals. The locals are friendly, helpful, don't try to rip you off and in comparison to Bangkok the surroundings are absolutely breathtaking. I love Vang Vieng so far - and I haven't even done the tubing yet.

Sooo... Vang Vieng is a small town. A really small town. As you now know it's filled with bars, restaurants and guesthouses. The town itself is located in a large valley or perhaps on a plain, but it is surrounded by limestone cliffs - making it look quite a bit like Halong Bay actually. It is soooo beautiful. There is a small river or stream runnning through the city - giving opportunities for kayaking, rafting and ... tubing! The surrounding mountains contain lots of caves which gives the place lots of trekking and hiking possibilites.

The first day me and Allison went to the Blue Lagoon which was a small lagoon outside a cave - 6 km from the town. We spent a couple of hours there just swimming in the lagoon, playing with the swings and just relaxing in one of the huts by the small river. Indian food for dinner and then some drinks in a lovely bar with great music (especially when the open mic got used - there were two great guitar players there that night) and a bonfire to sit by.

Today, which I hope is the second day (which I just realized it can't be since I've had two nights here, so the first day was probably just arriving and going to a bar), I've been doing a hike to the Losi Cave. The plan was to go tubing, but first we wanted to go to the cave. The cave turned out to take a longer time than expected, so I decided to wait with the tubing until tomorrow. So we went to the cave me, Allison and a very nice German girl (whose name I think is Patricia but I wouldn't swear on it). To enter the cave you have to pay a guide to follow you, which is very sensible. The cave was huge. I don't know how deep it was, but we spent more than two hours in there. The cave leads inwards and inwards until you reach a lagoon inside the cave. Me and the German girl went for a swim with the guide while the others (Allison and a German couple) waited a bit away - they were a bit scared and having a bit of troubles with some claustrophobia. It was a great experience to walk around in the cave and also to swim around in it. Especially when the light of the guides flashlight went out while we were swimming - and this was the only light we had at the moment. It was sooooo dark - you couldn't know whether you had your eyes open or not.

Now I'm getting ready for dinner after having relaxed in the sun for a couple of hours. This has been a lovely relaxed, chilled out day - which seems to be the only kind of days you can have in Laos. Tomorrow I'll tell you about the tubing - I don't want you to worry before I've actually done it! :)

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