Before heading off to the international frat house that is Vang Vieng, we thought we’d make a night halt in Phonsavan and then see the UNESCO site, Plain of Jars. On the way we had to retrace our steps back a bit to get back on route. We passed village after village, avoiding the chickens and goats. Again kids waved like no tomorrow. We also passed villages where we saw many women weaving cotton and silk fabrics on wooden looms. The designs look very much like the tribal designs you see in India. You find that many women still wear the long traditional skirts made out of cotton or silk with a stylish top. It’s also part of school going girls uniform. I was glad to find that people still appreciate their country’s own textiles and traditional dress.
By sunset we got to Phonsavan and found a place to stay. We had some amazing food at a Vietnamese style restaurant, the portions were Texas worthy! The next morning we set out to go see the Plain of Jars. So basically these are megalithic jars dating back to the Iron Age. So far archaelogists believe they were used for burial practices. There are many more sites but only 3 have been de-mined of UXO and they are all UNESCO sites. All in all it was pretty interesting but hoooooot!!!! I think its worth seeing, something different and somewhat haunting as you gaze out and see the rolling hills littered with these large jars. You also see the landscape marked with large craters from the carpet bombing that took place during the Secret War. Some of the craters have trees growing from the center…once you stand next to the crater, you really realize how big of an explosion those bombs could make. After having our fill of jars, we headed out for Vang Vieng.
Vang Vieng is like tubing on the Guadalupe River in Austin…except on steroids, ecstacy and a puff of weed. We found a decent, slightly overpriced place…but hey everything seems to be in Laos. I guess it’s the denomination. When you hear gas costing 200,000 LAK it makes your mouth drop, although its about $29. Lonely Planet’s ‘Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Budget’ was correct, every restaurant plays ‘Friends’ back to back on every single TV. Each restaurant has cushion seats at a low table. So you take your shoes off and recline on the cushions like you’re at home. That got us…big time…we are Americans I guess. After eating, we’d be hypnotized by ‘I’ll be there for you….!’ and sucked into the black hole, fully absorbed in Rachel and Ross’s never ending miscommunication. We couldn’t tear our eyes away until the DVD would end. After snapping out of it, Nick and I decided to try some local vodka called Champa. Ughh flammable! But we never waste, we saw the whole bottle through till the end of Laos.
The next day we decided to go tubing, which is the traditional thing to do here. We rented the tubes from the local tubing cartel and got into the tuk-tuk to be dropped off upriver so we could float down. Along the river there are bars that pump everything from drum n’ bass to Lao hip-hop. We walked across the bamboo bridge and walked into the first bar where we were greeted by a free whisky shot. Nick said hey why not, I knew if I was going to make it down the river, I’d better not! We bought a beer and then decided to start tubing. Most people ended up staying at the first bar for a couple of hours it seemed because for a while we were the only ones floating down. Eventually we stopped at a Lao-owned bar where tanned Lao boys were jumping off a huge slide and zip lines. They threw us a rope with a plastic water bottle attached so they could drag us in. Up the ladder we went and shared a mojito bucket. Yes, it’s a plastic bucket of mixed drink. Like the kind of buckets you make sand castles out of. Felt like more coke than rum…but it was nice and cold! Nick played soccer and volleyball with the local guys. Aftewards all the guys started jumping into the water. Nick followed suit and seemed fine when he popped up. When he caught up with me on the tube, I saw 6 big cuts on his leg. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? We guess that Nick is heavier and bigger than the local guys and he went a little bit too deep and his leg hit a rock. After refusing first aid, we eventually floated to another bar which was lively with kayakers that had paddled up. The bar guy noticed Nick’s leg was bleeding some, I asked if they had a first aid kit. He said yes and gave me a shot of the same vodka Nick and I had bought the night before. Nice. I laughed an evil laugh as I poured the vodka on Nick’s leg. As usual, my trooper of a husband, took the pain without a cringe. We got back on the tube and kept floating down river waiting for the end. It was nice and relaxing and the scenery is good, but I think since it’s dry season so not enough water in the river to float down nicely. At times it would be too shallow so you’d get stuck (or maybe its our fat asses)! All in all good fun! We are an old married couple now sooo maybe even more fun with a group!
Oh! And don’t worry, I patched Nick up when we got back with our trusty first aid kit. He’s doing fine…he has a memoir from Vang Vieng!