Vang Vieng is visually beautiful. I think I may have already said that. Seriously though, waking up to misty mountains is the best way to start the day. That, and no bites! Mosquitoes are going down. Getting up early for a proper day of activites is so much more exciting than getting up for a bus journey. So far, the fullest days have been the best days, and today is jam packed. The breakfast here is a bit miss rather than hit, but it’s filling enough. I’m glad we’re getting lunch included, there was no way we’d have been able to acquire it from breakfast.
We were collected in the back of a jeep tuk tuk safari style truck, and set off to the caves first. Jade’s brother had told her all about the tubing in caves, and I had been excited for this section of the trip for months. When we arrived, we piled off the truck and walked through the village and rice fields, after taking a quick power canoe across the river. Not sure I like the idea of eating my lunch at 10:30am though, seems a bit early. I shouldn’t complain too much when it’s included though.
We stripped down into our swimming gear, and picked up a tractor inner tube each – not quite inflated rubber ring for a Disney lazy river. Once we (elegantly) clambered on, we grabbed the rope and followed the guide towards the entrance to the cave. We were instructed to put our head toches on, and one by one, began disappearing into the caves. The were incredible, everyway you looked they seemed to go on and on, such a great way to see them. As we pulled ourselves further inside, we were separated into two groups. I started doing the mockingjay whistle from the front group, and someone was returning it, it sounded so good in the tunnels.
On the way back, we had to let go of the rope to allow another group to go past. I think we let go because we were now going with the current, I hope that was the reason. In the middle, there was a place we had to dismount and walk through. Mairead got off her tube a little early, and couldn’t stand, and then decided it was a good idea to crawl/swim with her tube around her, unlike anyone else. She was soon swept up by a stronger current, and had it not been for Mel’s foot, would have disappeared off down a different path. She got a bit separated when we had to let go to, definitely making sure she isn’t at the end for the rest of the trip.
Once we exited, I realised I had picked up a froggy friend, very cute. We had lunch then, which was way to early but very nice; we were rudely interrupted by a hornet and a hungry chicken. Despite how early it was, we all ate up to prepare ourselves for the 8km kayak down the river. I’m not sure how far I thought we’d be going, but 8km seemed far – this and the tubing = sore arms tomorrow me thinks. We climbed back in the truck and made our way to the kayak launch point. We had to pair up, which meant Jade and I had to decide who should steer and who should power, I chose power and Jade went to steer. What on Earth could go wrong?
The first rapids and proper turn caused a few issues, not just for us, We ended up sideways in a tree and then the wrong way down the rapids, but at least made it through without capsizing, unlike Melissa and Sally. We were now very behind. It took a while, but we began to build up a rythmn that allowed us to catch up with the rest. Kayaking down the Nam Song is equally and good as rafting down Yosemite river – so much fun! Then it all went bottoms up – literally.
There we were, caught up and paddling nicely, when we went through some rapids and ended up in the river. Capsizing was hilarious. We were a bit stranded and the guide had to come over and assist getting our boat the right way. Once that occured, we could climb back on. Jade was on and in position, and I wasn’t that far behind. Well, I was on, I just needed to adjust slightly and….wooosh, we were in again. Along with the 2 guides. It was too funny. They had to drag our kayak to dry land and turn it over to drain it. Once we were back on, we changed places, and got to the toilet stop relatively trouble free, save for some steering issues. At the toilet stop, we switched back, and powered to dry land in Vang Vieng, with style and rhythm, you’d never guess we had already been in!
After the kayak trip, we took the bumpy road to the blue lagoon. None of us knew what to expect there, and were surprised to find a deep, slow moving section of river with swings and jumping trees. It wasn’t very blue (a quick google after informed me that it is less blue in rainy season – oh well, it was still beautiful) but looked like a relaxing paradise, especially for someone so at home in the water. I was straight up to the high branch of the tree, around 7m up, and was jumping off – it was a lot of fun, I must have been up and down over 20 times. We all had a laugh in the water, and most people braved the jump (Jade included, very proud) with some hilarious videos and photos captured. We even met up with some fellow travellers, who had a chat in the water and jumped off the tree with me.
Once we returned, we were all pleased to see Lara looking so much better, and we all got showered and dressed, ready for a homecooked meal from none other than Lek. It was wonderful, the food was great, everyone sat down happily to eat it, with Lara well enough to eat the food Lek especially prepared for her. She even made the dessert Jade and I liked in the restaurant a few days ago. It was very thoughtful. A rain storm hit during dinner, which prevented some of us going out to explore the night life. I was quite pleased to have a night in, I didn’t fancy braving the notorious town, but some did, and appeared to have a fun night all round.