Phonsawan - Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng Travel Blog

 › entry 14 of 27 › view all entries
Along the way to Vang Vieng.

"We've got to crawl out of these mountains, we've got to dive back into the sea,
Until there's nothing left to lose and we'll be free."

Crawl out of these Mountains - Alan Case

After breakfast we left Phonsovan behind us at 8 o'clock and drove back across the same nauseating curving road we had taken to et here. A fog was hanging in the mountains, making the drive all the more dangerous. We arrived back in Muang Phu Khoun around 11 o'clock though and by now the temperature had already risen dramatically. Here, instead of continuing back to Luang Prabang, we would take the road southwards to Vang Vieng, but not before we had some coffee first.

Along the way to Vang Vieng.
It was also one of those moments where you get out of the car and your body immediately knows that there's a toilet nearby, giving you the direct order to go look for it. Of course in places like these the toilets are squat varieties and after all my travels in Asia I still haven't mastered the art of squat defecation. It simply always results in a weird balancing act and as long as the space is narrow enough to enable me to push myself off against the walls I'll make it out clean and dry. ;-)

When we continued on the last 100 km to Vang Vieng the temperature rose quickly and after making a stop at Kasi for the typical noodle soup lunch, we arrived at our destination around 14:00 hours. Dropping off our luggage we went out to explore Vang Vieng. This s a seriously weird place and if it wasn't for the stunning surrounding limestone karst cliffs you'd most certainly be thinking 'where the hell has Laos gone?'.

Nam Song and karst mountains in Vang Vieng.
Banked on the Nam Song river, Vang Vieng has become one of the best places to visit for outdoor activities like rafting, kayaking, tubing and exploring of caves. At the same time Vang Vieng has become the backpackers Valhalla and this comes with some less pretty side effects. First of all there's a seemingly endless string of almost identical 'TV Bars', all with the same menu's and all of them running endless DVD sessions of 'Friends', while people lie slumped on mattresses and low tables. Having said that I have to admit that Lying there with a drink and chilling out is quite a relaxing change from the activities of the previous one and a half week. ;-)

A second side effect that has changed Vang Vieng into a bit of a cesspool is the abundance of soft drugs. Especially in the island bars of Don Khang you'll find people for whom the natural high of Laos is seemingly not enough.

Exploring Don Khang, Vang Vieng.
Come to think of it, they gave me the impression that most of them haven't seen any other part of Laos at all. While exploring the town in the afternoon we ended up at one such place and we quickly came to the conclusion that this was not the kind of place for us. However, just when we were about to finish our beers and sneak out, we struck up a conversation with one of the waitresses, the Irish Marade. This sparkling young twentier had lived as a teacher in Korea for two years and while taking a break she had ended up in Vang Vieng in the past three months. Sleeping in a hammock, the experience of waking up every morning with kids playing the the Nam Song and seeing the sun come up over the karst mountains had made her decide to stay a bit longer, very possibly until Christmas when she would visit her family in Ireland.
A typical Vang Vieng menu.

The one beer we were mentioned to have here turned into a few more while we discussed living in Asia and music, while she kindly played all the songs we requested. We actually had to make a bit of a run to be back in the hotel at six, where our guide for the Kayak trip to Vientiane in two days would meet us.

After going through all of the details of the kayaking with Meng we had dinner in one of the TV bars. We seemingly picked a good one because the menu was extensive and we ordered everything from springrolls to Phad Thai and French fries. A return to the bar where Marade worked was a bit of a disappointment because the crowd seemed to be made up of the same spaced out people that were also there in the afternoon, so we decided to open a new bottle of lao-lao at the hotel. This actually turned out to be more like a sweet red wine, which was all the better since I have a hard time drinking the real stuff. ;-)

Biedjee says:
when I was in Vang Vienh I was lucky enough to be there during full moon, so every night there was a 'beach' party going on. Way better than the happy funny bars in town
Posted on: Nov 22, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Along the way to Vang Vieng.
Along the way to Vang Vieng.
Along the way to Vang Vieng.
Along the way to Vang Vieng.
Nam Song and karst mountains in Va…
Nam Song and karst mountains in V…
Exploring Don Khang, Vang Vieng.
Exploring Don Khang, Vang Vieng.
A typical Vang Vieng menu.
A typical Vang Vieng menu.
Chatting with Marade.
Chatting with Marade.
Dinner in one of Vang Viengs TV b…
Dinner in one of Vang Vieng's TV …
Chocalate and banana pancakes !
Chocalate and banana pancakes !
Vang Vieng
photo by: razorriome