Cycle Tour round Veng Vieng

Vang Vieng Travel Blog

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Cycle tour

Zoe was up earlier than I've ever seen today having totally misread her watch and jumped out of bed at 7am. I was slightly hungover and took my time preparing myself for our big day cycling. Oh yes. Watching all the motorcyles and bicycles in Asia I have craved the wind in my hair and the flies in my teeth so was eager to sign myself up to a 32km cycle round Veng Vieng. Dear lord. I don't think I've ever cycled 32km in my life so far, but something possessed me to try.

 

We cycled first about 8km to Poukham Cave, or the Golden Crab cave. Here we spent some time by the beautiful blue lagoon before setting off up the mountainside, a steep climb of about 200m up tree roots and rocks to the cave entrance.

Blue lagoon
Climbing down into the 'black hole' we had brought torches but typically both Zoe's and mine starting to fade immediatley and we lamented not changing the batteries... We climbed down and round, up and over in the cool dark till the cave opened up into a huge cavernous area lit by a craggy hole high up, and with a Buddha shrine covered by an orange gazebo (for lack of a more appropriate and reverential word). It really was awe-inspiring, and after a sufficient time spent gawping at the spectacle we pushed on further into the cave. It really is worth pointing out to any prospective speluckers, DO hire a cave guide at the entrance so you get to see the best of the cave, and also to avoid the dangerous 10m drops and holes in the ground that are difficult to spot.

 

The cave floor evened out a bit though it was still pretty frightening going with no torches between 2 of us and the uneven rocks and steps.

Giant cave with buddha shrine
Worse still was the MASSIVE spider someone spotted in the torch light - it was easily 9 or 10 inches diameter, and I was half grateful, half terrified of having no torch to spot more. Finally our climbing and sliding brought us back out at the other side of the shrine cave, and we climbed back out and descended down the mountainside again in the suddenly hot, humid air.

 

Down at the lagoon cafe we were treated to another (included) delicious lunch of rice and barbecue before setting off on our bikes again, our bottoms finally having forgotten the agony of that morning's bouncy ride. It wasn't long before they remembered though. The next stint was another 12km on mostly flat, unsealed orange dirt road.

Gigantic spider (about 9 inches across)
I wouldn't have minded, except my gears changed about 2 minutes after I had clicked them, so I would labour up small hills in 7 (though the dial said 4), then click it back to 7 again, and 2 minutes later the gear would crank into 4 and stay there. The upshot of this being that hills were a pig, made worse by labouring over the stony ground. My knees groaned at the effort heaving the bike over the chunky rocks and the bike seat threatened to slice me in half up my bum crack.

 

We stopped to guzzle litres of water at a village producing silk products that are reputably cheaper here than anywhere else they transport the goods to (obviously) but we were so sweaty and panting that we could barely grunt or wave away the villagers eager to show off their beautiful wares.

Cycle tour
I had assumed we were to be treated to a tour of the village and their manufacturing techniques when we had cooled off as it seemed the whole village was waiting expectantly and watching our group quietly, but after about 15 minutes we were off again.

 

The final push back through the gorgeous countryside was only broken up by one welcome incident when Lion Guy Tim ducked a branch and his bike slid down the nearside ditch and he went rolling slowly over the handlebars. He was unhurt, but we all grabbed the chance to stop, drink, and ease off the pointy saddles and massage our bum cheeks into their normal shape. Finally after another few kilometres we rejoined a sealed road, and I thought our troubles would now be over as I (and my poor, sad bum cheeks) moved gratefully onto a flat surface. Oh no. The final 4 kilometres were too much for me, and I slipped from pole position back one by one, until each person was just a distant speck. My bum was agony, and my legs begged to be straightened, even just for a second, but I didn't trust my legs to have the strength to straighten balanced on a moving bike, or my stiff bottom to hold my heavy legs erect without crashing unceremoniously to the tarmac. Nor did I trust myself to stop, on the basis that I would never start again, and had too much pride to be seen walking back to town. After an interminable age I finally swung into the gravel 'bus station' (read: large expanse of gravel) and gladly cycled the last few minutes back to the bike's waiting owners.

 

Dusty, filthy with orange and sweating like beasts, our first port of call was ice cream from the Indian restaurant, before separating to shower and meet again at Xayoh restaurant in town. By this time Caroline and I had discovered we are both from Harpenden, coincidentally the 6th person I've met traveling from my home town, and found out she knows my best friend from Lacrosse. Really really teeny weeny world you know? We had a great evening chatting, though the food wasn't brilliant, and finally turned in around 9pm. I treated myself to a roti and a Lao massage before bed which was just what the doctor ordered. Lao massage is pretty practical, and this giggling, blushing girl manipulated my arms into bizarre positions, pumped my inner thighs with her feet, twisted my legs around and with some amusement tried to click my back and hips with some weird swaying supporting manouvre. My stiff body was having none of this and we both collapsed in giggles at the attempt.

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Cycle tour
Cycle tour
Blue lagoon
Blue lagoon
Giant cave with buddha shrine
Giant cave with buddha shrine
Gigantic spider (about 9 inches ac…
Gigantic spider (about 9 inches a…
Cycle tour
Cycle tour
Vang Vieng
photo by: razorriome