Indo China – Day 36

This was one of the only places we’ve stayed in that didn’t have real air conditioning, or at least one that didn’t really work. So we had to have the main unit on, even if it was only putting out a small amount of cold air, the wall extractor fan, and the normal fan, and even then it was still warm, and damn loud to boot. Not that it really affected our sleep much, as we’ve come accustomed to sleeping through unique situations.

We got up at 7am with our alarm, showered, changed, and headed out for breakfast, and we found a place only about 50 meters from our hotel, and the food was awesome. Even gave us an idea of a business for back home, but who knows if that will turn into anything. Once nicely full we headed back to the hotel as our adventure was soon to begin.

9 out of the 11 of the group were heading out for a 10km kayak down the Mekong River, though one of us decided in the morning to just come for the ride rather than actually do the activity. We drove about 20 minutes out of town and got to our destination, and a few minutes later we were all geared up to hit the water. This was also going to be very different than the kayaking we did at Cat Ba island in Vietnam, as that was calm water in an ocean protected by surrounding islands, where as this was a fast moving river with small rapids.

There were 6 boats, with one guide leading the way in one boat, another guide sharing a boat with the weakest member of our group, and Chai sharing with someone else. That left the other 6 of us to share 2 person kayaks, and with this being Mollidy’s first time doing it on a river, as last time was her first time ever, she was a little nervous. It didn’t help when 20 seconds into the trip the kayak in front of us capsized at the very first rapid.

That rapid was a little be hairy for us as well, but we made it through, and the rest of the trip was mixed with amazing scenery, water fights, tense rapids, calm waters, and generally just a whole lot of fun. At the end, after about an hour on the water, we jumped back on the truck which then only had about a minute drive back to the hotel. Once back we had about an hour to kill until the next part of the days adventure kicked off at 12pm.

We had a brief stop at the room to wash our feet, but then it was back into the street to find a place for lunch. This time we ventured out a bit deeper and found a very similar place as we had for breakfast, as you’ll tend to find with many of these small towns the restaurants all tend to look the same and serve the same food. One of the great things about Vang Vieng is that half their seats are chilled out low table areas with cushions and pillows that allow you to just lie back and enjoy the atmosphere, which we did while we waited for the food.

Lunch was again really good, and one really funny thing about this whole town is that these chilled out areas all have TVs which you can sit back and enjoy, but every single one of them were playing Friends. It was as if they thought that was the stereotypical western show everyone liked, and well it worked, as it was really nice sitting down and eating to a good episode of one of my old school favourite shows.

After lunch it was back to the hotel and back onto the truck for a short drive to a bike shop. Here we left three of the group on the truck as they were taking that to our next destination. But the other 6 of us, and Chai, jumped on mountain bikes and headed off on a 7km bike to another Blue Lagoon, similar to yesterday. Normally 7km should be fairly easy, but these were back roads that were crazily rocky, and so it took ages, and there were many sore butts by the end from all the bouncing around.

Once we got there though it was all worth it, as the water looked amazing, and there were already heaps of people enjoying it. We dropped our gear, and dove into the nice cold water, and spent the next hour swimming, hanging from underwater swings, jumping off trees into the deep water, and using the rope swing to fly over and then into it as well. I love these kinds of places, so it was a hell of a lot of fun, and I almost didn’t want to get out.

When we did get out though 5 of us decided to check out caves nearby, but we needed to rent head lamps for this. The whole idea sounded good at the start, but we had no idea what it actually entailed, and at about the half way point of walking up the dangerous and slippery steps to get there, we wondered if this was a good idea. Once there though we ventured in, and quickly the head lamps became rather important.

The only thing that let us know we were on the right path were arrows sprayed on the wall, but other than that we pretty much needed to find and make our own way through an increasingly dangerous cave system. We had many moments of wondering if we should turn back, but we kept going anyway. The first stop was a shrine to Buddha that was lit up by natural light from the cave entrance, so we could turn our lamps off for that, but once we kept going it was lamps the rest of the way.

We knew nothing about these caves, and had no idea if the entrance was also the exit, or if there was an exit on the other side, so we just kept walking and claiming through it. After what felt like 30 minutes of this we found what we guessed was the end with a large cavernous cave, and no more arrows. We kept looking for more though but eventually decided that must be it, so we headed back.

Getting back was actually easier, as we were a little more confident, but it was till hard, and even going down the steps at the beginning was still an ordeal. Once back with the main group though Mollidy and myself decided we needed another dip to cool down, which worked wonders. Not long after that though it was time to leave, and the two of us had had enough of the bumpy bike ride and didn’t really feel like another 7km of that, so we had our bikes strapped to the roof of the truck and we jumped in.

We all left as a group and stopped a couple kilometres into the journey at a side road stall that was making scarfs, skirts, and table clothes. As it was Tuesday, meant it was date night for Mollidy and I, so I bought her one of the scarfs which looked really nice. Once a few of the group had bought what they wanted we headed off again, and I swear that the ride in the truck was even bumper than on the bike, but I was still glad to be in the truck.

Once home it was time for much needed showers, and then a good lie down which felt so damn good. Though before long it was 6pm and we headed out for dinner. We found a really nice place on the river bank, but sadly all the river view tables were taken, but we still had a great view of the mountains. The food was awesome, and by the end of it we knew the only way to top this day off would be with massages.

We found a place on the way back to the hotel, but all the massage places in this town felt a little budget, but we wanted one, so we chose what looked like the best. We decided for an hour on the legs and feet, and 30 minutes on the back, neck, and head, but we got off to a bad start when Mollidy’s girl looked like she was only 13 or 14. It was nice lying down for 90 minutes getting massaged, don’t get me wrong, and especially for only $11 kiwi, but it was pretty damn average, and Mollidy’s might have even been worse than mine.

Though it had been a great day, so we didn’t let it bother us and in fact it gave us a few good laughs on the way back to the hotel, and once back we realised how much the day had taken it out of us and we quickly drifted off to sleep after our last showers of the day.

Today I want to talk about your valuables. There are different options with this of course such as, leaving them in your room, leaving them in your rooms safe, leaving them at the front desk safe, or carrying them with you all the time. Whatever you do, don’t just leave them in the room, as cleaners, hotel staff, and other people have been known to enter rooms when you’re away, as even getting in via a balcony access is known. So just never do that.

Not all rooms have safes, but I also don’t trust this even if they do have them, as all it takes is a dodgy cleaner or hotel employe who knows the system, to get access to these. So only trust this at your peril. The most secure option is leaving them at the front desk safe, but if you’re doing this make sure it’s done in a way where you can tell if your gear has been tampered with. Some places will put everything in envelopes you’ve signed and sealed, so this is easy to tell. But if you’re just handing it over this too can be risky.

The last option, and the one I choose to do, is that I always take all my valuables with me, as I have good bag and personal security. Now of course if I was mugged then I’d lose everything, but if that happened I’m bound to lose my wallet and phone anyway. Though being mugged is much less likely than room theft or a bag being snatched, but once again this is a personal choice.

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