Today is our first day in Vang Vieng. Our plan is to check out the Blue Lagoon and some famous caves in the region. There are five caves the guide books recommend checking out. First though, we started by renting three scooters. Filling them up with gas cost about 30,000 Kip each ($3.75 US). Each bike cost 80,000 Kip ($10.00 US) for the day. But, we ended up taking one bike back because Hsien wasn’t feeling comfortable, mostly because in Australia they drive on the left-hand side and the steering seemed loose on the bike. So, we got the 80,000 Kip back and she jumped on my bike.
This was the first time I had road a scooter in my life. Fortunately, I have ridden a bike when I got my motorcycle license years ago! After about 5 minutes, I was good to go. The scenery heading to the first cave, Tham Pou Kham Cave, and the lagoon was spectacular. Of course we paid 10,000 Kip ($1.25 US) to cross the river and then another 10,000 Kip to go to this cave. We hiked up the mountain trail and checked out the cave a little. After that we got some beers and hung out at the lagoon. We all jumped in a couple times. My first jump in was with a rope from the shore. The second was from the highest branch of a tree hanging over the water. That was freaking scary!! But, I did it and that is what matters. The water was so green and beautiful.
After this place, we headed to another cave, Tham Khan. To get to this place, we first paid 10,000 Kip ($1.25 US) each and walked through a field. At the caves entrance, there was a nice little natural pool we could have swam in. We all went into the cave together and went in until we felt we had enough. Of course we had to take a fun picture. Here is one of us freaking out because we are “lost” in the cave!! Haha
After this cave, the sun was going down even faster than we anticipated, so we busted through a field to see another cave/ outlook area. Unfortunately, Daniel and Nadine’s scooter battery failed on us. We tried getting the guys giving tickets to the cave to help us, but they could not fix the bike. Daniel walked the bike back to a mechanic and we sat around drinking beers while the bike got fixed. We paid him 30,000 Kip ($3.75 US) and let him drain the gas out of our tanks so we would not return them full. I figured there must be a little scam going on because the bikes are empty when you rent them. It’s obvious they cipher the gas for themselves from all the bikes every night. We rather give to someone that had helped us.
After dropping off our bikes, we headed to a nice restaurant with amazing food. I ordered a lovely chicken, vegetable, rice, and egg stir-fry. We also ordered a whole grilled fish (head, tail, and skin included) to share between us. Tasted magnificent, but the way my friends “carved” the fish was strange me. This is just because I live in Korea and have experience eating “Asian style”. If I step back in my perspective, I totally would have cut up the fish the same way if I did not have my current background of Korean living!!!
Today was a beautiful day tubing down the Nam Xong River here in Vang Vieng, Laos. I woke up in the morning to join my German friends, Daniel and Nadine, for breakfast. Hsien had already headed over to a restaurant for coffee and to write in her journal. When we sat down for breakfast, Nadine was not feeling right in the stomach. She thought it could have been the grilled fish from the night before, but Hsien and I were feeling fine. So, Nadine went back to the guesthouse to sleep while Daniel, Hsien, and I headed off to go tubing down the river. The cost was 55,000 Kip ($7.00 US) to rent the tube, 60,000 Kip $7.70 US) for a deposit, and 15,000 Kip ($1.95 US) to rent a wet bag.
When we got to the river, we stopped and bought a few tall boy Beer Laos for the river. The sun was shining and the temperature was just right. I of course wish the water was warmer, because I hate cold water and don’t always feel comfortable in the water. I had heard that all the bars on the river were closed down because of some deaths, but there were three bars open for business!! We skipped the first, not really realizing that was one of the stops. The second bar had a big sign that said, “Free Shots!!” Well, anyone that knows me knows that will be the place to stop. We got reeled to the shore by the helpful staff and walked up to a lovely setting with a volleyball and basketball court, places to layout in the sun, and picnic tables. All of this nestled next to a beautiful mountain cliff in the jungle. We drank here for about an hour or two and had our free shot of Lao-Lao moonshine whisky! The same stuff I had bought in Phonsavan.
Now, when we grabbed some tubes to get back on the river, with a beer in hand, Daniel found he grabbed a tube with a hole. We tried getting down the river a little faster, but were forced to get off a bit earlier, which cost each of us 20,000 Kip ($2.50 US) each. I was a bit upset not to finish the river, but when a friend is in trouble, you just can’t leave a friend behind. Unfortunately, Hsien also started feeling sick. We started to think the LAP they ate last night could be the issue, not the fish. I ate the fish and am still fine for the moment. Hopefully that continues. Tomorrow we plan on heading back to Vientiane. From there, I will fly to Hanoi, Vietnam Sunday night.