Thursday, November 10, 2005

Vang Vieng

After some faffing about with the buses, I got underway. I had previously bought a ticket for the bus but didn't turn up early enough and now the bus was full. Another 3 people were in the same situation. The overflow gets shoved on a minibus and leaves when it gets enough passengers. Although they put another guy going to Vang Vieng on an empty bus, instead of with us. Confusion reigns. Eventually he got moved onto the minibus and we got underway when one more person arrived. This being Laos we actually arrived before the normal bus, passing it on the way, although we left an hour later.

Vang Vieng primary reson for being on the tourist map is to break up the journey between Luang Prabang and Vietiane, otherwise it's close to a 12 hour journey. I doubt many people live here that are not dependent, if indirectly, on the tourist revinue. Lots of cafes showing Friends. All day. Every day. Odd.

A popular day trip is to float down the river in a tractor inner tube. I wasn't sure about this, but ended up following the trail when I went out for a walk. I walked down the road, stopping off at the small market for a quick nosy. After a while I reached an organic farm where they 'tubers' get dropped off. I decided to loop back and follow the river back down to town. The path comes and goes mostly along the river bank, through some shaded forest and back inland to farm fields. Dotted along the way are small wooden bars where people can refresh themselves with a BeerLao. At one bar there is a death slide, I stopped for a while to watch people slide along. One girl demonstrated how not to go on the slide. She let go nearly immediately at the top and plummeted into the water. Looked a long way down!

I passed a young boy who had been out fishing. Not of this line fishing for the Lao's! He had a spear and an old scuba mask. Also carried a fishing trap, which maybe left out overnight. One of these one-way traps, full of small fish and other squidgy stuff. At the riverbank there were these bright red dragonflies which posed nicely for my camera. Going back along through the village, I saw a big green praying mantis. And then I came across some strange beastie! At first I thought it was a twig in a spiders web, but I noticed it was alive. It floated about, although it was on a thread, it looked like it was flying through space. Very strange anyway.

After a hard days walk it was down to a riverside restaurant for a cool drink. There I chatted with a Japanese farmer. I had always imagined Japanese farming as a traditonal family thing pass down from generation to generation. But, it turned out he had just bought the farm (literally!). Then went for a game of pool, where the table was rubbish! The next night, some Irish geezer decied to arrange a game of killer, the prize a crate of beer. Needless to say, I didn't win. It was the tables fault!

At night I had walked past a Laos marriage. The band were playing some songs. Electric keyboard, electric guitar and vocals. Not sure how traditional that was! But they all got up and shuffled about. They didn't seemed to into the dancing anyway. The bride wore what from a distance looked like an intricate silk dress, while the groom had a white tuxedo ala Saturday Night Fever, smart.

Now it's on the Vientiane, the Paris of the East!

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