By Popular Demand: Vang Vieng Tubing Photos
18.11.2008 - 18.11.2008 27 °C
Okay folks, now that we all remember who Waldo is, can YOU find him this THIS picture?!
I went again. Third time. As my friends crammed into a sagging tuk tuk I thought I'd try something a little different, and for 15,000K I rented a bicycle. The bike comes with a lock too, but don't even think of asking for a helmet, because they'll look at you like you've absolutely lost your mind.
It was around 11:00 and the heat of the day was bearing down and reflecting in waves off the hot asfault surfaces of the road. Hundreds of school age children were riding in both directions up and down the street on bikes, sometimes, two or three abreast and often several children on one bicycle. Most of the young ladies held an umbrellas aloft to block the wayward sun.
AN interesting aside: On local television here and in Thailand, I noticed loads of TV Advertisements for skin whiteners. And they're all by Revlon and Mayballene, the same companies that sell skin bronzer to Westerners.......
At one point I looked to two very young boys riding together on a bicycle. After cursory glances we began a race to the top of the hill. They were shouting in Laosian and I was hollering and whooping to encourage them. I passed them at first, but the hill was long and soon the two of them passed me laughing with delight. It was a really cute way to interact with locals.
I peddled about 4 KM and turned down a very worn dirt road to the Organic Mulberry Farm. Then I headed up a smaller dirt path that paralled the river and met my friends who had already floated down to the first of the bars. There I set up a little shady spot to watch people careen zillions of feet in the air in feats of unparalleled crazyness.
The swings are insane. I've already described them. Get a load of these pictures. If you see a girl in green shorts and a mostly black bikini top: that'd be me.
Yup, thats mE!
Around 1 the party was trickling down the river towards my favorite bars: the one with the great big slide. But getting there for me, would be my favorite adventure of the day.
I mounted my bike and pushed uphill back to the main road that paralled the river. Looked South and West I could follow the river with my eye because it ran along side the mountains. I knew where my destination was because it has a large bonfire, and I could see a whisp of smoke trailing in the air. I rode for a few minutes then turned towards the river on a small dirt path I hoped would reach the bridge.
I ended up in the "burbs" of Vang Vieng. Along narrow dirt path I passed dwelling places of the local population side by side, seperated by yards full of chickens and hanging laundry. In the oppessive mid-day heat I saw few people: I supposed most of them retired to the shades of their houses or were working in the town. It was humbling seeing this part of the countryside. The recent augmentation of income was reflected in the obvious growth of this small community. bamboo bungalows had new concrete attachments built on. Every now and again one came across a house the dwarfed its neighbors (still small to US standards) but that indicated a prosporus family. As I peddled past bamboo fenses, and cows tied to posts chewing lazily on grass I imagined that these families are the same whos teenage children manned the bars and restaurents in town, whose mothers said "pancake pancake" on street corners and sold Fantas and Sprite inside restaurants that sold curries and laap; whose fathers hammered away at old concrete posts to make way for newer buildings or who worked on the myrad of construction projects around town, making way for more guesthouses and restaurents. These were familes who were witnessing so much change in a community that might still be feeling reprocussions from being pounded to dust from unremitting bombing of only a few generations ago. These are the people whose pockets I am freely giving my tourist money: people whose culture is changing irrocovably; for both good and ill.
I found myself in a lovely open area full of creeping vines piled up in man-sized mountains dotted with white flowers, butterflys dancing on the breeze all around. I took a picture here:
But the path because impossble to bike further on, and I had to back track. It was a maze of paths and houses and I knew only to continue following the mountains. You see, I'd underestimated the distance of the bridge, which was well passed the Slide Bar. I eventually saw a man bathing a baby in his backyard. I got off my bike and wei'd profusly to show as much respect as possible and then waved and said smiling "Saabaadee!!" he smiled back and waved and I used signs and said "bridge" and he nodded and pointed back to where I had come from. I wei'd again and then got back on the bike. I didn't see many people but those I'd see off the main road were just incredibly kind and friendly. At one point I passed a lady on a motorbike and I said "saabaadee!" and she said "saabaadee something something" but in a tone of voice that seemed to say "well hello little western girl! What are you doing so far off the road!" and there was surprise and admiration in her voice as well as warmth and love. I remember it so well, even though it was only a few Laos words uttered in one breath as two strangers from different worlds passed eachother. I smiled as I peddled back to the main road.
I was drinking water like a fiend, and had run out. So I peddled back to a store and bought another bottle and then resumed my search for the turn off for the bridge. I found it and parked and locked my bike at the bridge and walked across its rickkity bamboo surface to the other side. I then walked for several minutes to the SLIDE Bar. I'm not sure the actual name, but this is what I call it.
First the Mud Pits:
Me "trying" to play volley ball, but getting mud in the eyes instead
Next, the Slide
I danced my little feet off to a DJ who was happy to take my requests for songs like "Danger Zone" from Top Gun..heh heh. Then, exhausted, I peddled back home. I hadn't to strength to go out, so I had a glass of mulberry wine and then watched a movie with a few other pooped out backpackers.
As you can see, there's really nothing like this anywhere! Still though, I'm moving on tomorrow to Vientiane. It's time for new horizons again, and a traveler must keep moving.
Hoped y'all dug it!