We arrived in Vang Vieng around 1pm today after a 3 hour bus ride from Vientiane. The closer we got the more we realised we probably should have booked more than one night here, the scenery was beautiful! It reminded us a little of Pai in Thailand as it is just a small town surrounded by miles and miles of picture perfect undisturbed greenery. The landscape is similar to Guilin in China too with the unusually finger shaped mountains.
The main draw to Vang Vieng is the river, everyone comes here to tube through the caves and down the river. The river apparently used to be lined with bars for people to swim up to during their float down, but Inevitably mixing water with drunk people led to deaths so they got rid of the bars. In hindsight we wish we did the tubing but time wasn’t on our side so we spent our day on huge dirt bike.
This dirt bike was stupidly big, Nick could barely reach the floor and it had way too much power for what we needed! Surprisingly we managed to finish the day having not killed ourself or crashing the bike. Although we did have one scare when a cockerel (obviously feeling suicidal) ran into our path but fortunately hit Nick’s leg not the wheel!
The loop we took on the bike was lovely, some of the best scenery we have seen. It took us on a rough dirt road through the rice fields and small villages where the locals lived. It was full of free roaming cows, pigs, chickens and even a couple of wild horses. We knew we were away from the beaten track of tourists when the first thing we saw was a family on their way back from hunting I assume as the man was carrying a huge rifle. Best not mess with him!
Seeing how the people in this area live was quite an insight, they live such a basic life within a tiny hand built bamboo shack. Their days are spent ploughing the fields and hunting for food in the surrounding jungle. Whilst it would be a very boring life for us, I imagine their quite content with the amazing views and peacefulness around them, everyone we saw was very friendly and the kids always gave us a wave.
There are a few waterfalls around Vang Vieng that perhaps we should have visited but since the Philippines spoilt us with its perfect blue water, everything since has felt a little underwhelming. We did however go and see the famed ‘Blue Lagoon’ as we’d heard good things. I think we spent a total of about 5 minutes there before leaving, the water was not blue and it was rammed full of loud rowdy tourists. Funnily enough we met a guy a few days later who visited this Blue Lagoon 9 years ago and said it was untouched, crystal clear and completed secluded from tourists. How things have changed! But this seems common everywhere, so many places seem to have been ruined by tourism or money grabbing locals.
The rest of the evening was spent doing some freelance work but not before a lovely meal overlooking the mountains on some comfy cushions that I didn’t want to leave. It’s a shame we don’t have another day here tomorrow.