On the Road to Vang Vieng

What does today have in store for us?  Well, we’ll be spending most of it on the minibus, travelling from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng.  Vang Vieng used to be known as a real party town, overrun by hoardes of tourists tubing, drugging and drinking their way along Vang Vieng’s waterways.  There were the inevitable spate of deaths at which point the local government decided enough was enough and the party image of the town had to have a stop put to it.  What remains of this former party town is yet to be seen, a few hours away by bus yet.

So what is there to say about the Lao countryside, other than it’s stunning.  The journey is mostly quiet with the majority of the group napping or listening to podcasts.  I lean with my head against the window, camera at the ready for scenes of local life.  So here’s the journey in pictures…

Along the way, we make a couple of pitstops – one for snacks and a toilet break…

…and the other for lunch at a restaurant which is perched on the edge of a mountain.  It is so misty today you cannot see where the edge of the mountain leads to.  Most interesting about this pit stop is the toilets, which consist of very large open windows looking out to the world below.  Well, they would if there was no mist…

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Not far from Vang Vieng, we stop at the buddhist temple at Ban Pha Tang.  It’s a welcome stop, not only to stretch our legs but because of the scenery – beautiful bright temple buildings pop against the dark green of the lush background scenery because of the time of the day.  A little kitten scampers around the site here, small blessings of rice sit upon a bright red plate over there.  There’s a bell tower to climb and extravagantly carved buildings to photograph.  The town itself looks like it would be a beautiful place to stay.

We depart just as the local children are arriving home from school for the day.  Chatting and laughing away, shy of the attention from this group of travellers.  I love stops like this – this is what travelling is all about to me.

It’s fairly late in the day when we arrive at our hotel in Vang Vieng, so after a quick check in and freshen up, Sar guides us through the dusty streets and down to the Nam Song River to find some food just in time to watch the sun go down over the mountains.  It’s a perfect ending to what has been a day of visual treats.   There’s not much of a party vibe to the town right now, but I wonder if it’s different in the light of day?

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