At 3:30 pm I finally arrived at the Vangvieng Rock Backpacker Hostel. I rested a bit and organized my bus to Luang Prabang. Then I walked around
to compare prices for tours and had dinner in a vegan restaurant. As desert I got one of those pancakes they sell every two meters on the streets. I had decided for Riverside tours. They charged about half of what they charge for a tour like this in the hostel. The beds in the dorm were quite comfortable, but I had very inconsiderate people in the dorm and also our window was facing the bathrooms were all the party people made a big fuss when returning from the jungle party, so I didn´t sleep too well. After the included breakfast the next morning I waited for my pick up. It´s normal that they are late in Asia, but since they were so close I rather decided to walk to the company than missing the tour in case they had forgotten me. In the end we were 10 people (1 from the USA, 1 French, 4 Malaysian guys from KL, 3 Chinese and me). With a pick-up truck we got to the first stop: cave tubing in Tham Nam.
It was a very cold and cloudy day. I was not really looking forward to get wet, especially not in a cold dark cave. But well, that was what I signed up for. So into the tube and into the cave. You get not very well fitting life vests and a headlamp and have to pull yourself along a rope through the cave. I was expecting that we would go through the cave, but instead at one point the guide just said we would turn around. So back the whole way. There is lots of tube traffic in that cave, way too busy for my taste. The first few minutes were fun though.
When we got out of the cave again the sun was fighting its way through the clouds and it was not as cold as before anymore. We got lunch of fried rice and BBQ. It tasted good, but was cold.
Then we walked to the Elephant cave
and drove per pick-up to the river after where we went kayaking. The guide was so slow that we basically couldn´t paddle at all without overtaking him what he didn´t like at all. So we were more or less just floating down the river.
The Blue Lagoon was the next stop. It is nice, but very touristy and full of Korean people in live vests since they can´t swim.
Back to the hostel I was happy about the hot shower to unfreeze finally. After putting in some computer time to get stuff sorted I finally went to a supermarket to get water and had a Pizza for dinner at Milano. That evening I just watched a movie. The next morning at breakfast I sat next to a Canadian girl (Claire). She and her French friend Adrian were planning to rent a scooter and explore the surrounding. They wanted to rent in the hostel. I told them that it is a lot cheaper basically anywhere else, since anything you book at the Rock hostel is overpriced. I joined them and after looking around for a while we ended up at Riverside again. They wanted 50000 Kip, I got them down to 40000 (~4€) which was almost half to what you pay at the Rock hostel. Claire and Adrian shared one and I got my own. It was the cutest scooter ever!
After a stop at a petrol station we drove to the Jang Cave. You have to pay for parking and entry to the area where they have food stalls and stuff
and also for the cave itself. It is a beautiful limestone cave with a great view.
We explored the surrounding as well and chilled a bit next to the river.
We drove back to the town to get some dinner. I had Beef Laap, a traditional and very yummy dish.
We wanted to get to the other side of the river, but they charge foreigners 10000 Kip to cross. We decided to look for another way. We drove south to the Nam San Lake. It is quite nice there, but they are building resorts everywhere.
We chilled at the lake and drove back before it got dark since none of our lights were working. When we had returned the scooters and had a drink for sunset at the riverside.
Claire had to get some cash and we tried out like 5 ATMs until she was finally successful to withdrawal money. Sundays the ATMs are often empty in this country, but we got lucky after all. We went to the Otherside for dinner.
It is a nice local restaurant with decent prices. Adrian bought a pancake for us to share. In the hostel we played table soccer for a while before I packed my stuff and went to bed. The next morning I got picked up by Minivan for the journey to Luang Prabang. I have to say that I wasn´t too unhappy to leave this place. The surrounding is nice, but it is way too much of a party town for my taste, although it is a lot better than it used to be since the government intervened after too many people drowned tubing while being completely drunk, stoned or otherwise drugged. If it would have still been like that, I would have skipped Vang Vieng completely!