We had one of our latest starts of the trip so far with today’s next part of the trip, as we didn’t get our private bus till 9.30am. This meant we could set our alarm for 8am, though a damn cat sitting outside our window woke us up a few times crying, so we weren’t able to get the full benefit of this extra sleep. When the alarm went off though we did feel like we had a decent sleep, so we showered, changed, packed, and headed down for breakfast.
The breakfast was just ok again, but like the day before it did the job it was required to do, and then at 9.30am we were in the lobby with everyone else and getting into our bus destined for Vang Vieng. The journey was going to be 4 hours long with two stops along the way. The first was just a general toilet break where we got ice creams, but the second was at a fish market which smelt pretty bad. Once you’ve seen 10 stinky fish markets you’ve seen them all, so I left the group to it and I walked to the edge of it for some fresh air.
Once back on the bus it was only another 30 minutes till we reached our hotel and some much needed lunch. We checked in, and were told we had an hour to kill before meeting for our group walking tour, and as this didn’t give us much time to eat, we just decided to eat snacks. I’ve still got some of the stuff we originally brought with us from New Zealand, though not much of it, but there was still enough there to fill us up.
At 3pm we met in the lobby, and we walked as a group out of the small township of Van Vieng and about 1km down the road to the river, which we crossed, and then to a fresh water lagoon coming straight out of the limestone mountain side. 9 of us got into the water, which was a bit cold to begin with, but once in felt great, and it was just awesome! The water flowing out of the mountain, which was coming from a cave, was really fast, and if you weren’t careful it was able to quickly sweep you further down the lagoon or off the rock you might be holding onto.
Not that I minded, because as I watched the others struggle I actually really enjoyed fighting the current and swimming directly up it. We stayed in the water for about 30 minutes with many moments of slight nervousness as everyone seemed to have their own little moment of fear in the eye when they couldn’t quite hang on or found the current too strong. But then 6 of us decided to swim up the lagoon cave entrance where the water was pouring out, and that’s when it got really cool.
I swam ahead as everyone else pulled themselves along the walls of the cave, but as Mollidy was struggling a little bit, I stopped and grabbed a good hand hold of the roof entrance and reached my arm out for her to grab and I was able to pull her into the cave. Once in the cave we still had to fight the strong current, but it was pretty damn epic being inside it. We were able to manoeuvre deeper into it and at about the 30 to 40 meter mark we found the end of the tunnel, which was lit by gaps in the rocks from above, and we just soaked in the experience.
We’ve done so much on this trip so far, and though this whole thing can be seen as fairly straightforward, I still found it to be one of the best things of the whole trip so far, and I damn loved it! The swim out was nice and gentle as we just lay back and let the water take us out, and once outside we all had massive smiles, which were joined by all the locals also taking a dip in the water.
We dried off and shared our stories of inside the cave with the others who didn’t go in, and we were all on a bit of a buzz. As a group we then walked back into town, but instead of heading back to the hotel we looked around the restaurants and other sites instead. Chai took us to one restaurant which overlooked the Mekong River, and we watched a beautiful sunset over the lime stone mountains.
After this we headed back to the hotel, talked about the next days activities, and then went our separate ways for dinner. Mollidy and myself had showers first and changed, as we’ve become accustomed to doing two to three times a day, and then at around 7pm we headed out for dinner, feeling very hungry. We walked into town and found a place called Bamboo Bush, and we both ended up picking a very yummy Pad Phet dish.
With full tummies, but still feeling like a dessert, we walked the streets again and I found a yummy cookie cafe we had seen earlier where I picked up a rather large chocolate chip cookie, and Mollidy grabbed herself a chocolate and banana pancake from a local street vendor. With even fuller tummies, we headed back to the hotel and crashed, as it was possibly going to be the most physical day of the trip so far tomorrow.
Today I want to talk about something that happens in Vietnam, but we have yet to experience anywhere else in Indo China, and that is the standard practice of putting all toilet paper, and this includes ones already used to wipe pee and poo, into a bin next to the toilet, and not in it. Sounds nasty I know, and it is. They don’t flush anything down the toilet, so every time you go to the toilet, be it a mall, restaurant, or toilet on the road, you’ll be affronted by pee soaked and poo filled paper in a bin next to you while you do your business. It’s horrible, it’s nasty, and it’s just something you need to deal with in Vietnam at the very least, though personally I didn’t partake in this practice.