Today I want to wander around town and chill for a bit. Some of the others are heading out cycling and cave exploring, but my stomach isn’t feeling so great. I’m not sure if its because of the late night snack we had on the way home, but if so, it was worth it cause it was damn tasty…a kind of pastry thing filled with whatever you like, mine had chicken, onion and cheese and they grill them up on the side of the road.
Anyway, it’ll be a good opportunity to quietly check out the town without straying too far from the hotel room.
Breakfast is at probably the biggest and most westernised bakery in town – the Luang Prabang Bakery. The food is good and there’s wifi, which is probably what draws so many tourists in. There’s a restaurant where you can dine in, and Erin and I took a seat alfresco to watch the town awakening.
Leaving Erin for her day of caving, I head out onto the streets. I have no plan for wandering, so I start off with a wander around town. Groups of tourists are getting ready for their days adventures which basically consist of getting into jeeps and travelling out to the caves or further down the river for tubing adventures. Little dune buggies sport around the streets too carting tourists off to explore for the day. Unfortunately today is the only day we have here and because I’m not feeling so crash hot, dune buggying is out for me which is a shame cause it looks kinda cool.
I stop by a couple of shops and buy an old necklace and a four faced buddha as little momentos of my trip. Next I wander aimlessly down the main street. Damn it’s hot. I should have stuck to the back streets cause the main road is out in the beating sun and there is no shade. I feel like I am literally melting.
I pass a temple and take a quick peek inside. I could be forgiven for thinking that I was the only tourist left in town for the day as the streets are so quiet.
From behind me I hear singing or changing, I’m not sure which but when I turn, I can see a group of people congregated in the streets – possibly a funeral, I’m not sure.
I pass a sign near the tourist centre telling tourists how to behave and think how it is such a shame we have to be told how to consider other people in different countries.
Feeling better, I decide to find somewhere to have a leg massage. I pick one at random, praying to god that it’s not a house of dodgy dealings. I have chosen a leg massage and am guided to a room with a couple of mattresses on the floor. With pants removed and towel in place, I lay back to wait for the masseuse, studying the surroundings. It’s then I notice the little hearts cut out and pasted to the walls. It’s then that I start to hear male/female giggling from a room beyond mine and it’s then that I start to panic. Before I have time to leave, the masseuse comes in a begins work. The massage is really good and I can feel all the knots in my legs unwinding, but I’d be lying if I said I was totally relaxed during my appointment. An hour later, the massage was done, sans any inappropriate behaviour and I was back on the street heading for the hotel and an afternoon nap.
Later on in the evening, Hannah, Erin and I decide to find somewhere to have drinks down by the river. We stopped at one place long which didn’t seem bothered about serving us, so we left after about 15 minutes of waiting. We were wandering down an alley when we happened to look up and spot a sign to the Smile Beach Bar – which you couldn’t actually see – what we could see beyond the steps was a stretch of darkness down a bunch of stairs. Not wanting to end up with all the other tourists at some doof-doof bar, we thought “let’s check it out”. At the bottom of the steps was a clearing and in the distance we could see a string light proclaiming the bar, which seemed hidding behind palm trees. We could hear music coming from in front of us and let this guide us to the bar in the absence of decent lighting. On arrival, there was a small group of people to one side and a another group next to a big bonfire. Beyond the bar itself, was a row of hammocks. This place was perfect.
A few last groups of tubers came up the bank from the river and sat by the bonfire drying off. After about an hour and many mojito’s later, we were the only three left here! So we stayed on, swinging on the hammocks, singing our hearts out to the stereo – oh wait, is that why everyone else left?…
Our time in Vang Vieng ends peacefully swaying away on hammocks beside the river and we are definitely smiling. Before turning in for the night we stop for a last tipple and some dinner at a different bar. While paying for our meal on the way out, we spy “War Spoons” for sale on the counter.
I don’t know much about Lao’s unexploded ordinances (UXO) issue, though I do know that it is not unique to Laos – many south east Asian countries suffer from this problem and I saw some of the effects first hand while in Cambodia years back. It’s a shame we are leaving tomorrow because a trip to the War Spoon Village of Ban Napia would definitely have been something I would have done. Nevertheless, I do buy a spoon to support the cause.