Nikki and I arrived in Vientiane, Laos at 10:30am on Friday and decided to rush to catch the 11am bus to Vang Vieng, a 'resort' town just a few hours away. We shared a local bus with Laotians only, stopping at random stops along the way where food stands sold the most unappetizing dried fish I've ever seen, not that dried fish is ever really that appetizing... As soon as we arrived, a German guy who looked Israeli recommended a modest guesthouse to us ($6/night), which we ended up moving from later in the day to a much nicer one for double the price.
The town instantly seemed bizarre. It looked sort of like Long Beach, New Jersey, which shouldn't be normal for... Laos. It was slightly empty - we were wondering where everyone was and we realized they were probably 'tubing,' which is what the town is famous for. We made friends with a weird Canadian guy, who gave us some insight on the town and helped us prepare the next day.
We tooled around town that evening, changed guesthouses and got an early, spicy dinner and a sound sleep. The next day, after a really hysterical conversation with a couple of caged parrots at the guesthouse who were very clearly saying "good morning," "sa ba dee" and LAUGHING at us, we set off as early as possible to go check out some of the caves in the area. THEY WERE SENSATIONAL!!!!!!! We biked a few kilometers away from town then hiked pretty high through the forrest to the first cave, where we were completely alone with a small flashlight. It was extremely big, dark and silent besides some dripping noises, and we were clamped to each other tip-toeing a half a mile into the darkness, with our hearts beating pretty fast, but of course pretending like we weren't scared at all. It was awesome!! The second cave was even bigger and crazier, and there were other people there, so we were a lot more confident about exploring it, but it wasn't as thrilling. There was a blue lagoon at the base that we jumped off a really high tree branch into and swam around in. There are dozens of caves in the immediate area: some with lagoons in the middle, some bigger or deeper than others - they're really magnificent and very different from the type of scenery I'm used to, that's for sure... Central Park is on Ambien next to this stuff.
After the caves, we finally went to check out the 'tubing,' which turned out to be at the base of the first cave we explored. What a crazy place!! When we got there with our tubes, there were basically a ton of Western kids getting drunk at various bars along the water, tubing down the river, jumping off swings into the water, going down zip lines, slides... it was a big kid's DREAM PARK. We had such a blast... we did some whiskey shots from bottles that had snakes and killer bees in them, got our bodies tatted up with immature sayings, swung off really high zip lines and swings into the water, acted like morons and laughed our asses off. It was a GREAT DAY.
Vang Vieng is a strange town. It pretty much just caters to the Western tourists with its weird water theme park and amazing caves. When we biked out of the main center area, we found more interesting local life, but the town center feels like Ibiza or somewhere and is full of young travelers looking for a funny time.
All in all, we had an awesome last day in Laos and tomorrow morning I'll be busing back to Vientiane to catch my flight back to Siem Reap, Cambodia...