Written by Tom
25/11/2008 - 29/11/2008 25 °C
We headed off to Laos on the night bus at 7pm from Bangkok as the night train was full. We were told 12 hours to the capital of Laos (Vientienne). The night buses are not that comfortable and neither of us got much sleep and eventually we arrived at the Laos border at 6am. We were shocked to discover you had to pay $35 for your visa (Cambodia was only $20) as we were trying to stop the leakage from our travel funds. And it took ages to get our passport back and then you had to pay an entry fee (on top of visa fee) after you had gone through passport checking. We did meet two nice lads through all the chaos though, called Shane (American biologist on Antarctic fishing boats...cool) and a Brit called Ash.
At about 10am (3 hours late) we arrived in Vientienne. After a lot of tips over the last couple of days we decided to stay on the bus and head to Vang Vieng further on from the border as there was not a lot to do in Vientienne. At last (3pm) we arrived in Vang Vieng...only 19 hours of buses then!
Vang Vieng is a strange little place surrounded by stunning mountains in the sun and bordered by a river. I say strange as most of the bars in the town centre, which are open all along one side, show repeats of the US sitcom 'Friends'. However, after the long bus journey, a few episodes of Friends and a pizza did the trick before bed. The next day we wanted to go tubing down the river (more on tubing in the next Vang Vieng entry) but Coralie had picked up a nasty infection in her finger and it was all swollen. Thanks to Boots the chemist in Bangkok we had stocked up on anti-b's and gauze plasters and special healing cream. Instead I headed off on a half-day rock climbing trip with Shane and Ash. This was awesome fun, the first time I had climbed apart from climbing walls at school. I now know why Ollie Rips always disappears to go climbing.
We started off on a grade 4 (climbs are measured grade 4 to 8 I think with sub categories) and eventually the last climb was a grade 6. It was tough and I fell off half way up (thankfully had ropes on) but persisted and got to the top some 20 metres up a sheer face.
Back in Vang Vieng a bored Coralie was waiting and in the evening we decided to hit the bars hard. A few buckets of cheap whisky and lemonade later and we were standing around one of the fires that the bars have on the island in the river and chatting away to other travellers.
A sore head in the morning and it was back on a 7 hour bus journey to Luang Prabang.