We stayed at Elephant Crossing – pricy for us, but an absolutely beautiful view across the Nam Song to the limestone mountains behind. Honestly, I think it must be one of the best views I’ve ever seen, and was worth every penny (the hotel was not bad either!). The good weather helped – in the four days we spent in Vang Vieng, every single one was full of sun and blue sky. That’s pretty much unprecedented for us – we’ve had a lot of cloud in our travels, so it’s been lovely to bask in the sun. It was really hot too – too hot to walk around in, but we both spent some time on our room’s balcony, soaking up a bit of sun and watching the world go by on the river below, and beyond. Let’s hope that as we continue north the weather holds.
Our tubing stint was excellent – we met a nice Australian couple who were on the same wavelength as the two of us (i.e. sensible), and we had an excellent afternoon. We had a good laugh at all the drunk people making fools of themselves. Unfortunately, we had such a good afternoon that we did not make it back to town until after 6pm – at which point we had to pay a 20,000 kip fine each for returning our tubes “late” – mind you, it seemed like we were some of the first people back, so I’m not sure anyone on the river manages to escape that fine?!
On our final day in Vang Vieng, we enjoyed some well-earned rest and time on our balcony – on that day it was absolutely scorching, so a brief walk through the rice fields that we’d planned had to be scrapped – shame really, as Mahmoud had not taken a lot of photos (due to the water activities) and wanted to get some of the area. We also went to what we’ve dubbed a “Friends Bar”. These bars exist throughout Vang Vieng, and they all continuously play reruns of Friends (the sitcom). Some also play Family Guy. I like Friends, but just walking past those bars winds me up – it’s so irritating that they play nothing but Friends! Also, apparently they’re good spots to make your shake or pizza “Happy” – quite a regular request in Vang Vieng I understand! Having been to a Friends Bar, I can say that I don’t want to go back – once you’re in there, you can’t stop watching it.
Vang Vieng was excellent – the locals were nice, but I felt a bit sorry for them to be honest. Lao culture is often being ignored there by the young, drunk tourists. Signs in shops saying “Please cover yourself”, or “No bikinis” are largely ignored, as nearly-nude foreign youngsters parade through town in an inappropriate fashion. Saying that though, the amount of money that comes through town has to be good for the community – they have a big new hospital in town, and I imagine that a lot of families must be making a lot of money from tourism, giving them many opportunities. Furthermore, the scenery in Vang Vieng and the surrounding areas is breathtaking. I knew northern Laos had some lovely scenery, but I never expected it to be so beautiful. I understand that our next destination, Luang Prabang, is even better – looking forward to it!