15.11.2011 - 19.11.2011
After arriving after our long journey a bit tired and shaken in Vang Vieng we struck out - rucksacks in tow (all 18kg+) to find somewhere for our group to stay... an hour later we ended up grumpy and sweaty back at the same hotel where we had been dropped off as it was by far the best we'd seen and had room for all of us.
After our long journey that day we were all in a need of a drink or two and headed out to see what Vang Vieng had to offer... ended up being a pretty crazy night out finishing up in the place where everyone seems to go - Q Bar. The next day despite a few sore heads we all jumped in a tuktuk to go tubing - for those who haven't been this is basically like a crazy next level bar crawl down a river with most people hiring rubber tubes to float down stream. There are bar staff strategically positioned all the way down throwing ropes out to you and pulling you in to their bar... It was a pretty hectic day out (ending in Q Bar) and I totally regret not buying a waterproof camera now (there's no way mine would have survived!)
Most people seem to come away from Vang Vieng with an injury or two and I definitely didn't get off lightly - somehow managing to gash open my foot (which later got infected) and badly bruise my coccyx - I blame it on the slippery wooden structures of the bars!
The next day half of our group decided to brave tubing again and the other half, me included, decided to hire motorbikes and find the blue lagoon, which turned out to be very blue but a bit on the small side. We ended up chilling out by the lagoon for most of the day and there was a massive cave just behind it which we ventured into, bit tricky climbing through a pitch black cave in flip flops with only 3 rubbish torches between 5 of us but was definitely worth doing! When we got back into town we bumped into the lot who'd been tubing and headed out for the night with them... ending up in... Q Bar!
The next day I realised my cut foot was definitely getting worse and as I didn't want to have to go to a Laos hospital I managed to find some medicine and booked myself on the next bus out of Vang Vieng headed for Hanoi. Most of the group were all heading to 4000 Islands in Southern Laos the next day as well, something I've had to miss out on this time but will be a good excuse to come back to Laos and do!
After a pretty quiet day before of sorting everything out for Vietnam I said a sad goodbye to the group and jumped on my bus for Hanoi - via Vientiane, a 30 hour journey in total! I stocked up on valium before leaving Vang Vieng which in the end turned out to be a life saver! We got to the boarder with Vietnam around 12pm and slept on the bus until the boarder opened. At around 6am our bus driver turned all the lights of the bus on and shouted at us in Laos / Vietnamese - presumably to wake us up and get off the bus. No one really knew what was going on and we all felt sorry for the 3 people who had (rather stupidly) not got their visas in advance and so were in the end turned away and had to get the next bus back to Vientiane! The rest of us ended up being shuffled from one place to another and eventually after being stamped out of Laos we had to walk across some sort of no mans land and into Vietnam. After having our bus and bags thoroughly searched by sniffer dogs we were finally allowed back on the bus and we set off again for Hanoi (2 and a half hours later)!
no man's land from Laos to Vietnam
After 30 hours of travelling I made quite a few friends on that bus and when we finally arrived in Hanoi I decided to stay with 2 of the girls who were travelling together - Kaylegh and Shannon. They were booked into a hostel so tagged along with them and later met up for dinner and drinks with some of the guys we'd met on the journey, not too sure about Hanoi night life as everything seemed to shut pretty early again but was definitely a good night out!
Finally in Vietnam!! Probably the place I've been most looking forward to coming to for the last 6 months...
the blue lagoon and caving