Last night while we had been out and about in Vang Vieng we had picked ourselves out a kayaking trip down the nearby Nam Song River. In town there had been loads of sellers inside and outside their shops in the town so, had we picked a good one or not? Only time would tell I suppose.
Anyhow, first things first, we grabbed a bite of breakfast and the hotel’s dining area was just great it was out at the back of the hotel and overlooked a lush green paddy field – the best way to start the day! We could lay down and eat our chow Laos-style whilst at the same time admiring the beautiful scenery. However, by the time we were picked up from our hotel by our guide in his van, the weather had changed and did not look particularly inviting as there were quite a few clouds about, of the black variety – the very worst kind.
The group that were assembled in the back of the van was a bit of a mixed bag – some Koreans, Japanese, Indonesians and ourselves, a couple of lowly Brits (lol). After the shortish but bumpy road trip out of the town we offloaded and our guide then led us off over a bridge which looked to be in the midst of its construction to our first cave of the day. This turned out be a big open hole in a karst outcrop called the Elephant Cave which was also something of a shrine as well and inside there were lots of offerings next to a Buddhist statuette as well as a huge Buddhist footprint. It was fine enough but once you had seen the elephant-looking rock formation the place did not need a great deal more looking over.
Next up though was the kayaking proper and the river looked very fast flowing and although we were all ready to go, first we had to prove to the guides that we were competent enough to go in the water, which one or two of the group had a few problems with. Soon enough though we were in the river proper and off following our guides who were quite a good laugh and seemed to amuse themselves by soaking us ‘customers’ using their paddles – good eh! Every now and then one of us would attempt the same trick on them but to little avail, it must have something to do with their paddles or the way they flicked their wrists. Whilst we could hardly send a drizzle of water flying towards them they would half fill our kayaks such was the amount of water they could direct at us with their paddles – Damn, they had been practising! Often, the river too, seemed intent to join in and kept trying to jump into the kayak as well, especially at some of the more white watery spots along the way.
After a good time paddling we eventually slowed and we all got off at a bend in the river because it was here that we were to be having our dinner. We soon enough got chatting and asked about the ziplines over the river as we had seen some but not yet seen them being used. The guides told us that this was now very strictly being controlled and although their company was still allowed to do it, a lot of the others had been stopped. A lot of the youngsters used to come down the river on the black inflatable rubber tubes, many of them very drunk and some even drugged up as well. The riverside bars would entice them in and often had ziplines outside from which the drug and drink addled could have a go at, the idea being that they could jump from the wires into the river which went well until one of them dropped from the line when there was not so much water in the river and subsequently broke his back – ouch! Not a good tale but a very good reminder of what can happen if you are stupid enough to let it. Our guide took some of our party off to have a go at the forest ziplines but it was quite expensive so we left it this time but it did look awfully good fun.
Anyhow, when everyone was back and had eaten it was then off to cave number ‘deux’ for some tubing of our own. I actually went first on this one and after the warmth from the sunshine we had felt whilst eating, the waters here were icy to say the very least – nut shrivelling! Tubing along in the cave we saw some glow worms and had a go on the mudslides and at one point my leg disappeared into a hole calf deep where I am sure that if I had landed slightly differently I could have injured myself but I didn’t so no point in dwelling on it eh! Even without that little incident, by the end of the tubing we were all somewhat achey but it still was quite a good laugh if a little short time-wise.
Then it was back aboard the kayaks and off once again, this time paddling ever closer to Viang Vieng and this part of the trip was just a bit more sedate but it did give us time to admire the lovely scenery. The skies were not impressed though and were definitely starting to turn a darker shade of grey and as we reached town it absolutely threw it down. We were getting wetter now than we had been the entire rest of the day in the kayaks! As we jumped back onto terra firma we swapped our email address with a number of the group in order that we could send them photos as I had my GoPro on the go on the water. Then we said our goodbyes and took the longish and wettish walk back to our hotel where we hunkered down for a bit of a siesta and after the hard work of the kayaking we felt like we deserved it. Our bodies must have agreed too as when we awoke it was night but at least the rains had stopped.
We went out in search of food and had ourselves a couple of beers, then my wife wanted to see where the young folk hung out in Vang Vieng. This, my friends, is how we found ourselves in the early hours of the morning, partying like it was going out of fashion and dancing up a storm. The extension to the dance floor being a couple of pool tables which my wife actually made it up onto at one point and shook her booty whilst looking somewhat precarious. If she had fallen I would have had no idea what to put on the insurance claim – injured whilst playing pool from an entirely different angle I suppose? Anyhow as is God’s way, the meek and the drunks usually get away with it and my wife here was no exception, even when she made a most unladylike dismount from the table and nearly managed to ‘arse’ someone in the face! What a great day and a good night on the razz to follow, it was just the long stagger home and making our way down the pitch black lane to our hotel which sobered us up a tad but would this be enough for us to avoid a hangover tomorrow, who knows?