We set off from Luang Prebang on our 6 hour mini bus journey. It was a really really bumpy road full of bends that would make anyone car sick. Luckily our trusty armbands and travell sickness pills meant we were fine. The scenery was spectacular with paddy fields, rivers, jungle and huge mountains everywhere you looked.
We finally arrived at our destination, the small town of Vang Vieng. Our hotel was really nice and overlooking the river.
Mark took us on our orientation walk around the town. On first impressions it was like the Magaluf of Laos! Loads of young travellers all dressed in swim shorts and bikinis drinking their heads off.
One very popular one is River Tubing where you sit in a rubber ring and drift down the river. I was keen to try this out as I had read it was good. Heidi and I took a Tuk Tuk to check it out and immediately we thought…no. What we saw was hundreds of near naked bodies getting very drunk at bars on the river bank and jumping from platforms and swings into the river below. It all looked quite dangerous and Gap Adventures does not allow its guides to promote it because there have been fatalities in recent years. There were only about 3 people doing the actual tubing and they were struggling to get down the river as its dry season and the water was low. They told us it would have taken 3 hours baking in the sun and drifting slowly and aimlessly down the river. Not for me. I was imagining rapids and fast flowing rivers.
In the evening we ate a nice meal together on a restaurant at the rivers edge. It was nice to eat a good old fashioned Pizza after lots of days eating Asian food, which is very tasty, but a change is always good.
After brekky we hired some mountain bikes and rode into the incredibly scenic countryside.
It was an awesome morning! There is basically a big dirt track loop that you can cycle or motorcycle along. On either side of the track, every few hundred meters, there are trails that lead you to some caves in the huge limstone outcrops that form the landscape. There are loads of different caves to visit and as there are so many you are normally in there on your own.
We brought our headlamp along with us and ventured into the first cave, WOW! It was amazing. You could literally walk for ages and ages into this dark hole scrambling over rocks in the pitch black with only your torch for light. It was really good and felt very adventurous.
When we came out there was a nice pool of natural cave water that we could paddle in and get refreshed after the hot and sweaty caving.
We cycled another 10km or so until we reached our next cave that we were promissed was very impressive. It was! At the entrance of the cave is a turquoise blue lagoon of water from the caves. It was beautiful with silvery fish swimming inside and a tree with rope swings on it.
The cave itself was a 10 minute walk up the side of the limestone rock. When we got there and peered inside it was very impressive. A huge cavern awaited at the entrance and after exploring further a golden Buddha shrine lit by the natural light was situated at the bottom. We walked further in until it was pitch black. It was so much fun!
When we came down we were very hot so we literally just jumped straight into the cool and refreshing lagoon. Ah bliss!
In the afternoon we gave our bikes back and had the rest of the afternoon to chill by the river and watch the sunset and the hot air balloons go up across from our hotel.