From Bangkok we traveled by bus to Vienetiene, the capital of Laos. The 16 hour bus ride was quite enjoyable. It was our first of several bus rides on this trip and after experiencing the others this one seemed like we were traveling first class on a private jet. Once we reached Laos we were amazed at the beauty of the country. Laos is much more rural and less developed than Thailand, more of what we had expected Thailand to be like.
We spent a few days exploring Vienetiene by foot and by scooter. We enjoyed the food until we both started feeling ill, a feeling that would stay with us for the remainder of the trip.
From Vienetiene we traveled North to Vang Vieng. Vang Vieng is the backpackers paradise of Laos. The tiny town was full of visitors from all over the world and was very accommodating to the backpacking lifestyle. Open air bars and hostels line the streets. The bars in Vang Vieng are different from ordinary bars though. Every bar/restaurant in this town is full of wooden lounge seats covered in cushions, allowing patrons to lie down while they eat (not so great for digestion I'm guessing). The fun doesn't stop there. Not only do you lounge while you eat, but you also enjoy watching endless episodes of great American shows. Each bar is full of TVs on which they play one American TV series around the clock, the most common being Friends. I have never seen so many Friends episodes in my entire life and I was a Friends fan in its prime. As we walked the streets Phoebeâ€™s voice rang out in all directions. When we tired of Friends we were able to find two bars that had daringly strayed away from Friends and played non-stop Family Guy. Don't worry we didn't spend all of our time in Laos watching TV (although we did spend a lot of time). One day we rented bikes and rode back into the mountains, hoping to find a waterfall and cave. After riding for quite sometime and being thoroughly bitten up by mosquitos we had almost reached the waterfall. However, we were suddenly stopped by a small boy with a knife who told us we had to give him money to continue on down the path. I was sick of being ripped off and refused. We decided to turn back (I was indeed afraid of a 10 year old with a knife).
We had planned to go tubing down the Vang Vieng river before leaving Laos but both Jay and I became very sick. Jay visited the local hospital when he came down with a fever and we had previously opted out of getting Malaria vaccinations. We both left sad that we had not experienced the tubing, but maybe we will go back someday.
Vang Vieng was a wonderful place to visit. We headed back to Vienetiene to catch a bus to Hanoi. This would turn out to be the infamous bus ride from hell. Tune in next time for that delightful story. In the mean time,Â check out some new pics!