Vientiane (part two)- 6th to 15th November

A return to Vientiane. Originally we had planned to travel down to the 4000 Islands in the South, but were advised not to with the onset of Typhoon Haiyan, and the continued case of… ahem… digestive system delicacy (WHO KNEW THIS COULD LAST 2 WEEKS!)

As a result, this will be a shorter entry than usual. Firstly, this might have been the nicest hotel of our entire stay- the Vientiane Garden Hotel. Populated by a nice mix of travellers and Thai holidaymakers, with incredibly comfortable rooms (an essential when you’re unable to leave!).

Secondly, I haven’t gotten across just why we loved this city quite so much- I’ve found a nice article by somebody else which I hope sums it up better!

It really is amazing- I wish we could have had at least another week here, it is such a warm, interesting and laid back place.

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Vang Vieng- 31st October to 5th November

What better way to spend Halloween that with a drive through the mountains with a certified psychopath. 15 terrified tourists in a minibus taking corners that a man and his goat might struggle with at about 70mph! After 2 hours of unbridled terror, we arrived in Vang Vieng, a tiny town, nestled between enormous mountains, with a river running through the middle.

The view from our room.

The town is very chilled, with most of the bars laying out the tables as beds that you lie down on, with cushions and such, and nearly all of them show endless repeats of Friends, South Park or Family Guy to lure in homesick tourists! The town used to be more of a piss up paradise, with tubing- literally floating down the river from bar to bar in a tractor inner tube- being the town’s main selling point, but the river front bars have been closed as a result of one too many drownings! You can still go tubing, minus the booze, and it was a great way to see the gorgeous scenery (sadly we didn’t get pictures due to the camera not playing well with water!)

The last waterfront bar!

You can also walk out into the mountains and explore, in what is an incredibly wild and beautiful corner of Laos, although it is very easy to get lost before you even get near the mountains if you are an idiot. (Ben is).

YEAH COWS!

Unfortunately, the week then took a turn for the worse, as the dreaded traveller’s stomach struck- thank god we had a nice hotel, and a pharmacist who spoke good English! As a result, the following few days are probably a little unpleasant to report (and no, we took no pictures of the view…) but the smallness of the town was an advantage, as we could get takeaway when we needed it, and were never more than a panicked sprint from relief.

Even so, we ended with a gorgeous dinner by the river, with steamed chicken in banana leaf, lemongrass skewers and sticky mango rice.

As there are a lack of pictures, to finish, here are a couple of lovely bits of ‘Engrish’ from menus:

Never let me down yet…