Last days in Laos

From Luang Prabang we headed to the Vang Vieng which is conveniently on the way to the capital city. The town itself is sitting right on a river with beautiful mountains surrounding it in every direction. Its easy to see why it was one of the first backpacker destinations in Laos. The main street is full of cafes with dozens of couches filled by backpackers watching hours of Friends. Seriously. We opted for the popular tubing trip down the river, which took us most of the day as we drifted lazily down river. Its the dry season and we didn't move very quickly, actually sometimes it felt like the wind was keeping us from moving at all. We had been told that we could buy beer at stalls along the river, but we weren't really prepared for what we got. Huge "fun zones" with decks, tarzan ropes, loud punk rock music and loads of drunk frat boy types surrounded by girls in bikinis (not Lao girls). In contrast, on the quieter parts of the river, we were surrounded by poor locals, washing their clothes or collecting seaweed to dry and sell at the market. I tried to think of what their opinion of foreigners would be as they mostly see them floating down river in inner tubes, drunk, fat and loud. After all the fun of Vang Vieng, we took a 4 hour pick-up truck ride to Vientiane, the capital of Laos and spent 4 days there, exploring and finally taking advantage of cheap and fast(er) internet. We stayed in the cheapest hotel we could find, and we definetely got what we paid for, actually maybe we got less than what we paid for. We were bombarded by mosquitoes all night unless we blasted the fan right in our faces which consequentely prevented us from sleeping. The sign on the door of the hotel said "Please be back by 11:30, we our a family and we must sleep too, thanks for your consideration", we were kept up until 2am by the sounds of drinking and partying. To add to the ambience, the bed behind the counter held an old family member sitting in his underwear attached to an iv. We tried to get to all the sites in Vientiane. Yann loved the Patuxai Arch, the attempted replica of the Arc de Triomphe, nicknamed the Vertical Runway, in honour of the fact that it was built using concrete donated from the U.S. for the construction of a new airport runway. The highlight for me was our quiet visit to the most holy site in Laos, the Golden Stupa. After 10km of walking there and back we treated ourselves to Lao massages, the girl massaging me had a nasty cold and was sniffling and sneezing in her hands then proceeding to rub them all over me. Yann, who was lying next to me found this extremely hilarious. We rented bicycles to visit the Mekong waterfront. On our last day in Vientiane we feasted on local Lao food and splurged on French pastries for dessert. A lovely way to leave Laos.

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