Celebrate your birthday in Vang Vieng

On 10 May 2014 by From elephants to kangaroos

Nice gift from one of my best friends: she joined me in Laos to celebrate my birthday. So we met in Vientiane on April 27, city we quickly left since the little interest it has in the direction of Vang Vieng. This city is often described very negatively and has a bad reputation because of the tubing”, an activity which consists in going down the river on a tube that has caused the deaths of several young people a few months ago while they were drunk. But refers also to some stuff heard about the region, it looked nice. I was not sure what to expect

IMG_4166So we arrived there at midday and beyond the city (which is , like many in Asia, 1 or 2 main streets where you find all accommodation, restaurants and bars), in front of me, a sublime panorama of mountains with the Mekong and some bridges that cross it. Honestly , one of the most beautiful postcards since the beginning of this journey. I was immediately charmed! So we found a guesthouse that allowed us to enjoy this view from morning to night (for 60 000KIP so approximately €5 the double room! ) and went aisles around the city. There are full of activities to do in this area : kayaking, tubing so (without having to stop at the bars!), loads of caves, lagoon, long walks and…balloon ! So we decided to book a nice program for the next day, my birthday! It will be baptism on a balloon flight over the mountains, kayaking down the Mekong for 2 -3h and surprise / add by my friend, relax in a comfortable hotel with swimming pool! Meanwhile, we spend the rest of the day walking on the 2 sides of the river, enjoying the beautiful nature especially at sunset, on the other side of the bridge. We discover few moments of local life : some children are looking for insects in the earth to bring food to their families for the diner, local arriving at the back of a truck to take their bath in the Mekong, other with massive food at the back of their scooter… And also by hazard a beautiful hotel nestled in the middle of nature with a small bamboo bridge serving all bungalows. Decidedly, this city and especially its nature around has a lot of charm.

IMG_3919April 29, 5:30 am, it’s time to stand up for our balloon ride. Yes but now, it rained all night and it’s still raining So after waiting a few minutes, the bad news came: not possible to fly this morning. We will be starting to sleep waiting to see later what the weather holds. A small check in the new hotel with swimming pool and so we find that the rain stops little bit, sun is back. We start our kayak trip. 10km to go on the Mekong with our guide, a few small rapids here and there but nothing too bad. In short: we enjoy! Was fun for us to paddle, we enjoy the beautiful panorama around us, we bathe in a while, we talk with our guide. A great time!

IMG_4070After 3h, we ‘re back on dry land. Towards the hotel pool for a little rest and bathe in the bright sun now raging. A nap in the hammock. And at around 4:45pm, we leave for the second trial of balloon, this time it’s ok! We will fly! We share the flight with a very nice Dutch couple (and quite funny). We observe the many men who swell the sail gradually, the driver on board with his costume! Then it’s time for us to go inside and fly… What a magical impression! Although scary at the same time, because you take a lot (really a lot) of high at the same time. But the view is amazing! There are no words…all the mountains that rise on one side of the river, houses and fields on the other to admire. The light is perfect, very little cloud but gives a bit of mystery to the scene. Inside the balloon, we are not that confident. It is really high in the sky, the flames in the balloon scare us every time, but we enjoy, we have fun and enjoy! IMG_4012Personally, I talk a lot and take pictures not pay too much attention to the altitude. Then after about 4045min flight, it is time to go down, slowly but surely. Everyone below us make great signs, children run in our direction to play with the balloon when we arrive. We stop once, then 2, then 3 times… The balloon, despite the men holding straps and running to cling to it to try to stabilize it, does not stop like an airplane! It takes several tries. What great happiness Honestly, I highly recommend to everyone this experience if you feel like it! The panorama in Vang Vieng is fabulous and so you can enjoy a 45min flight for $ 80 (about € 55), so go for it! A good dinner at the Café de Paris and a few drinks in the evening will end this day in a beautiful way!

IMG_4262The next day, we rent a motorbike to explore the Blue Lagoon and its cave. We start by climbing to the cave, which takes a little effort when you see the stairs leading to it which is very high and very dicey! It is quite large and impressive.
It then descends to the lagoon which is really nice, a perfect blue. There are swings made ​​in a tree where you can jump (on 2 levels), a vine to play Tarzan. Both say: a playground for me! So I have very much fun! Having tested the vine and jump, my heart returns to the first game and I jump like a dozen times in this very cold but refreshing water given the heat outside! Then a quiet lunch in the shade in one of the small huts built there then restarts motorcycle through the Laotian nature.

IMG_5726We start searching the waterfalls , which turns out to be a real challenge : in fact, the road is disastrous to get there, it is very difficult for me to ride the motorcycle with Camille behind and mounted on some runs full of pebbles. I have never been so concentrated driving a motobike since the start of my trip! Once arrived there and the pressure back down the road, we ventured into the paths that lead to waterfalls. Well … I do not know if it’s because of the season or waterfalls themselves but there is almost no water and therefore almost no waterfall! A little disappointement of having done all this way even if we enjoy the view along the way! It is time to relax in the swimming pool.
We enjoy our last night in Vang Vieng before hitting the road the next day to Luang Prabang, which we’ve heard a lot of good things. A good restaurant and back to the hotel as the storm arrives violently !

Little tip if you are currently or soon to Vang Vieng and want to get to Luang Prabang: a new road opened recently and takes 4 hours instead of 7 by minivan to join the two cities. All travel agencies do not offer it so do not hesitate to ask (the agency next to VX massage has it). Not only is it faster but more the road is really sublime so do not miss it!

Some pictures from the balloon:

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