Sunday, August 10, 2008

SE Asian Adventure--Laos

My view from my hammock in Vang Vieng, Laos
Aaron and Heather emerging from the river after their first tubing trip.

The last country on my trip for me was Laos. Heather and I flew from Siem Reap to Vientiane, Laos. I'd been to Vientiane twice before, but probably had spent less than 24 hours total there, so I was looking forward to spending a little more time there (even though it was only one night). Lonely Planet says that Vientiane may be the most laid back capital city out there and I think it's definitely the most relaxed one I've ever been to. It feels like a very small city and the pace is definitely very slow there. After checking into our guest house, we went out for lunch and then went for a facial at the Papaya Spa. Then we ate some dinner at a restaurant right on the Mekong River, looking across to Thailand. I had eaten at a restaurant right next door to that place when I was in Vientiane in January and it was amazing how much more water was in the river now than then. We also got to see an outdoor aerobics class taking place right by the river!

The next morning we met Aaron and then took a taxi on the 3 hour trip to Vang Vieng, Laos. Vang Vieng is a little town (about 30,000 people) right next to the Nam Song river in a beautiful setting that, for some reason, got on the tourist circuit and has pretty much been taken over. There are lots of outdoor activities to do there, the main one being tubing down the river. There aren't any cultural or historic sights in Vang Vieng, so if you're not doing something outdoorsy, the other options are eating. Quite a few of the restaurants there show US TV shows pretty much all the time and have raised tables set up that you can lay at and be pretty much completely useless! The first full day we were there it was rainy and none of us felt 100% healthy, so we spent quite a few hours watching Friends and eating pasta. The next day Heather and Aaron went tubing down the river, but I decided I didn't want to risk catching Lao Beaver Fever, so spent the day checking my e-mail and reading The Thornbirds in a hammock by the river. The day after that, I had to head back to Korea, so I caught a mini-van for the drive back to Vientiane. After a little lunch, I went to the airport, flew to Hanoi, and then had a late night flight back to Seoul. I got back Sunday, August 3rd, and started getting ready for the next school year!

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