Vang Vieng is quite of a place. It is populated with young backpackers and is surrounded by karst peaks with tons of caves inside. Also, the river that crosses it represents its major attraction for water sports and the mountains are enticing for biking and rock climbing. It is an outdoor sports place like Moab, UT or similar. Meanwhile, the place is full of guest houses that charge ridiculously cheap prices, around $5/night, and is full of restaurants that have these style table-beds with pillows like in Dahab, Egypt, with the difference that the pillows are not directly on the ground/sand, but on these elevated beds like in the chaikhanas of the Middle East. So all the “falangs”, foreigners, and locals are stretching their bones on these beds, eating on a small table in front of them and watching a large TV that is playing mainly “Friends” or soccer. I knew about all this but I said that is worth seeing to believe it! Most of the backpackers are hanging out there for many reason one being the cheap accommodation and food, the great crepes on the street very popular in the night and lots of sport activities , that make many of them to stay for at last a week in Vang Vieng.
In the morning after I had my breakfast of eggs and coffee, I started to explore the places around and what better way to do it than by bike. So, I rented a bike for $1 and I went to see a cave on the other side of the river Nam Song. The cave was interesting but no big deal, but the beauty was the nature around, with the beautiful river and the karst peaks that were magnificent. I biked around, in the forest on small paths where the legends says that the entire area is populated by spirits, and I came back in town, going again on the other side to see a beautiful guest house a German woman on the way mentioned it to me. The guest house named Maylin, held by an Aussie I guess, is charming with adorable gardens and cottages on stilts and everybody living there were like living in paradise. It was funny that I got to talk with two Irish. She was laying in a hammock and was so sorry that she had to leave because the whole setting was marvelous. She kept saying that she is very sorry and very sorry, but she has to be in BKK by tomorrow. I consolated her telling that I have to go to work myself and I asked her where she has to go from BKK, expecting something like Dublin, but she said that she has to go to ………..Sri Lanka. I felt her pain into my soul! What a trade off: Vang Vieng to Sri Lanka. I said good bye to them and planned that we will meet at the bus stop because they were taking the same 1:30pm VIP bus to Vientiane. Meanwhile I talked in the guest house with a couple from Vancouver who were already traveling for about 4 months, 3 in Vietnam and they were going for an entire year. From Maylin guest house I went directly to the bus station to buy my ticket and when I arrived the guy from the booth asked me if I want to go with the local bus at 12:30pm for only 25000. The price was irrelevant but because I had nothing special planned, I went back and dropped the bike and took my luggage and I made it in time for the 12:30 local, on a bus in a very bad shape (where I met the Irish couple) but it did the trick and reached Vientiane in exactly four hours, at 4:30pm. The ride was good, with all the windows open for fresh and non-AC air. A tuk-tuk brought me for 15000 kips to the Mekong promenade and after choosing between two guest houses I ended up in Joe’s Guest house where I have AC and I am right on the Mekong for $14, quite expensive for Vientiane standards. I walked a little and found all sorts of Internet places and overseas call centers and I plan to eat tonight at Cote d’Azur, a French restaurant and after that, to have a beer on the Mekong.