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Day 15: Let's Cram all of Vang Vieng into One Day

Vang Vieng, Laos

Cave Climbing

7 a.m. is way too early to wake up anywhere, especially Vang Vieng. Roxanne and I, however, had big plans, and we needed to make the most out of our very little time in town.

By 8 o’clock, we were outside the hostel doors, searching the roads for a tuk tuk driver to bring us to the Blue Lagoon. Our tuk tuk timing just continues to fail us: it proved pretty difficult once more to find a driver. When we finally did, he was sleeping in the back of his ride, a hammock hanging from the tuk tuk roof as his makeshift bed. He was more than happy to wake up and take all of our money, however, because after our last tuk tuk encounter, we weren’t really in the mood to negotiate down the price.

Our Blue Lagoon trek wasn’t exactly what I would call Lonely Planet material. We actually did everything pretty much completely wrong, but we managed to have a great time throughout.

When Roxanne and I first got there, we climbed up the wrong stairs, somehow managing to reach a ziplining platform. We were searching for a cave. These stairs were also not really stairs, better described as glorified pointy rocks of death, and they definitely weren’t suited for people to climb down after realizing they weren’t geared to zipline. But it was a great view.

We then went searching for the infamous cave, scoffing at the nearby sign saying we should buy flashlights and/or get a guide. We wouldn’t fall for that scam, we thought.

Turns out it wasn’t a scam, and after 10 minutes of climbing up the only-slightly-less-life-threatening rock-stairs, we entered an ominous cave.

I also could swear someone told me to get there early because it was better (hence the 7 a.m. wake up call), but thinking back, I probably got that confused with something else. I haven’t admitted that to Roxanne yet, but when you read this, my lovely/cool/awesome travel partner in crime, I’m sorry. Hahaha oops.

It was actually terrifying to climb through this cave alone, as no one else had arrived yet due to the early hour. It was beautiful, but I kept dragging Rox farther and farther into its depths despite her logical hesitations. In my defense, the dim, spray painted arrows continued to direct us forward, and I couldn’t climb all the way up the Scary Stairs to only see a fraction of this cave.

This is where a guide would have come in handy, and the rented flashlights would have provided more comfort than our feeble phone lights. However, we still enjoyed our time climbing through the rocks and mud because of this natural beauty.

It was so large! The entrance was only a small hole, but it opened into a vast cavern. There was a Buddha shrine right in the center of it, sitting directly below a beam of sunlight.

We then climbed over and under some more rocks, through another small hole, and found ourselves in another equally huge large cavern. This one was almost pitch black, but with our small light sources, we could see enough. At this point, we were climbing inside a mountain. Wow.

Without any more spray painted arrows in sight, we turned around to retrace our steps. Again, we marveled at the beauty, and I know it was worth it. We wasted no time jumping in the Blue Lagoon after descending the stairs, which could be called stairs again because they were much easier to climb down after crawling through that cave.

Scoobie Doo

Back in town, we ordered more sandwiches, which were delivered in double-decker versions. I felt like Shaggy from Scoobie Doo as I tried to bite down.

That’s the whole story, but if you were as hungry as I was, you would appreciate the large amount of food just as much. Short Section; Big Impact; Sandwich Style.


We got back to our hostel a little after 12 p.m., where we learned from some other hostelmates that the bus to go tubing left everyday at 12:30. Our plan was to tube that day because, similarly to bowling in Luang Prabang, drunkenly tubing down the river is the cool thing for backpackers to do.

We flew into our dorm to get ready. By 12:29 we were set, only to learn that the last tuk tuk had already departed. Again, with the tuk tuk luck (luck).

So, we ran down the road toward the tubing booking agency without shoes on -- because others recommended to take only what you’re okay with losing, and shoes definitely do not make that list -- to get there in time. We ended up happily in the back of the line, with other equally barefoot travelers around us.

Roxanne and I then spent the rest of the afternoon tubing with other people from every part of the globe, getting randomly pulled onshore by bottles attached to ropes, suddenly landing at random riverside bars.


We returned home just in time for dinner. If I were so happy to eat my lunch earlier that I decided to put aside an entire section just to discuss my sandwich, I could dedicate an entire blog page to how happy I was eating that next meal. Coming at you soon:

Walking to our hostel and then to dinner, Roxanne and I passed Lewis, a London traveler whom we met, and then later lost, while tubing. He was just sitting in his tube on the pavement outside of the booking agency. The workers inside were all staring at him. He was staring back.

Turns out he returned too late to get back his deposit for the inner tube, as the rules clearly explain will happen, and he was “protesting the company.” It was hilarious, and not very effective.

Lewis’s story, though, has a happy ending. We joined up as soon as we saw each other, and Lewis tagged along as Rox and I stopped on the way to dinner to book the next day’s bus out of Laos. After the transaction -- with this really great company that hooked us up with the most helpful set of rides back to Bangkok, resolving any sense of distrust for man -- Lewis struck a deal with the employee behind the desk. Lewis sold him his inner tube for 10,000 LAK, making back a sixth of his deposit in this random travel shop. 

We then all got a much-appreciated dinner together, where Lewis, who used to be a DJ, and I shared music to bring home to our respective countries. The three of us discussed hobbies, politics, religion, you name it, and then went back to Viva for more free stuff.

After such a busy day and because of of my apparent early aging, I didn’t really feel like going out. I just wanted to sleeeep. But Roxanne, the all-time cool travel partner, reminded me to make the most out of the little time we have traveling, and we headed on over to Viva. I had a great night, happily remaining sober and enjoying myself as much as the drunk travelers around me.

We came to an easy compromise and went home early, avoiding the so-called Jungle Party at midnight. This is also very important with travelers: knowing to compromise activities. You can’t travel with someone without doing activities/seeing sights you're less interested in, and vice versa with your travel partner. Because there is always the vice versa -- don't forget.

We Showered

We then went home and showered.

That’s the Whole Section

...because that was even more amazing than our brunch today and the dinner after. If I am going to such lengths to create a blog about my dinner, I will also be legally changing my name to We Showered. Check it out, soon to come:

Traveling gets super gross, and yet I found a way to feel especially disgusting after climbing through a muddy cave and swimming in oh so many different watery locations. If only I could clean my poor, white (or, after today’s activities, brown) Adidas the same amount. Man oh man did I need to clean my discolored body. I will continue to dream about that shower for years to come.

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