After yesterday’s quite poor showing with respect to cave viewing we decided to hire a couple of bikes and hit the road this time a bit further to the Blue Lagoon and the Poukham Cave. Our fingers (and some toes) were crossed hoping that today would be a better cave day. We knew that the ride would not be a small undertaking as it had rained last night on ‘roads’ that were little more than mud-tracks before the rain fell! The Blue Lagoon was well over 7km and on such roads even on pushbikes we had no idea just how long it would take us.
However, first things first, we needed to finish breakfast and then go find a pair of trusty steeds – aka bicycles – to do our evil bidding! Mine was a red ‘mean machine’ and Liz had a pink … erm … ‘road hog (piglet)’, so as soon as we had paid our dues we were off into the wild, wild Laos countryside – (Time for a musical interlude of what was going on in my head as we rode) – Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way …. blah, blah, blah – my knowledge of the lyrics evaporates at this point.
Meanwhile, the way to our destination was definitely a bum tingler and avoiding the puddles became an absolute necessity as some of them looked as if they would swallow whole cars let alone a couple of brits on bikes. So to avoid the possibility of drowning we gave the ‘puddles’ a wide berth – this was hazardous stuff folks! To add to our peril there were an awful lot of tuk tuks going in the same direction, it was all a bit like some computer game Asian Bike Ride 2000 that type of thing but eventually we made it, to the Blue Lagoon – and onto the next level of the game I suppose!
The mystery of all the tuk tuks was solved as the place was really very full and the waters of the Blue Lagoon were very greenish blue indeed. To get in there was a fee and another one if you wanted to go and see the cave, which we did, but as this was a place frequented by locals the rates of extortion are much lower, so it was all very good.
When you pay you also get a torch and then it is up, up, up. To get to the cave entrance you go up many stone steps which are a bit challenging in places as some of the stones are broken or missing but we reached our goal in tact. Then we switched on our torches and lo and behold… well … it was not exactly the binding flash of light I had been expecting. To be fair I think the cave seemed lighter without the torches on! No they were at least adequate so inside we went to explore. It was not that great a cave to be honest, which is probably why the locals were all in the lagoon and it was only foreigners up in the cave but it was good enough to have a scramble round and scramble you do because here there are no guide tracks or ropes or anything much here – just the odd stalactite and its cousin, the mite, beautifully illuminated by our … torches, bah! We caught up with some Italians and carried on to what seemed to be the end of the cave but then one of them wanted to try to get a bit further so I went with him but it was not too much further before we had to give up our Anglo-Italian bid for glory lol. On the extra bit that we did we saw the poorest ever ‘Danger’ sign next to an ominous looking hole in the rocks, God only knows how far down the hole went and I was not inclined to find out. Anyhow after this we trekked back to where Liz and the others were waiting and then back out to the cave’s entrance and this time down the treacherous stairway, which seemed even more perilous on the way back down.
The Blue Lagoon was quite full with loads of locals with their kids but we found ourselves a spare pavilion, got changed and in we went. After the heat of the day the water seemed a tad cold but we swam about and soon enough warmed up. And in the water Liz made a friend in the form of a Dragonfly, who I assume was somewhat tired and decided that he needed to rest on Liz’s head, anyhow she had a friend for life, well at least until it then flew off – dragonflies can be so fickle!!
Once exercised we had a bite to eat and another swim before setting off ‘home’, towards our little hotel. The way back turned out to be as treacherous as the way there especially regarding the road quality. On the ride back we came across an Eco Lodge offering the opportunity to do some voluntary work so we stopped to have a drink and find out a bit more. Unfortunately, it was not really what we were after as the place charged money to stay and work and the stay needed to be a minimum of two weeks so after watching more of those fickle Dragonflies by the pond at the place and having a drink, we left and continued onwards.
Although the way was difficult the scenery was just so very lush and green and beautiful with rocks that seemed to rise up out of the rice fields, like grey boats on a vivid green sea. Once back to town, we bid goodbye to our bikes and then had a bit of a rest back at the hotel before we were back out.
Vang Vieng is a very strange old place to take a wander about of an evening. Its general population seems to comprise of drunken young people in varying states of undress, so quite interesting to watch but it does make one quite hungry … lol. So it was that we found ourselves back at the BBQ place we had stumbled across on the first evening here. This time we well over ordered but the smell of the place simply encourages such gluttony, even whilst eating you still feel that you must have another sausage because the guy on the next table has one! Well although we had in front of us enough food to fill an army eventually we overcame the challenge and found that we had consumed the lot. The pain of trying to stagger home under the weight of our by-now extended bellies was horrific but I, for one was proud that we had not been beaten by the mighty meal – it was excellent!!!