Laos: Vang Vieng & Blue Lagoon

Today Ilona and I plan on just having a relaxed day where we figure out where we’re going next and how we’re getting there. We know we want to head south towards the islands in Thailand but we can’t get there all in one day, so we have to get there in steps either by train, bus, boat or plane…but we’re trying to avoid the flights.

We go for breakfast at a restaurant where they play re-runs of “Friends” on two flat screen TV’s all day. Awesome. That’s like a thing in Vang Vieng; restaurants either play Friends, Family Guy, or South Park episodes on repeat ALL the time. We try to plan out our route at breakfast but the episode where they play Bamboozle is on, so we are slightly distracted. Most of the group has decided to go to “The Blue Lagoon” in the afternoon to go swimming so I tag along too, while Ilona stays at the guest house to try and get more sleep and look at more possibilities for how to get south. We take two tuk tuks over to this Blue Lagoon, which is down a bunch of gravel roads so the ride is super bumpy. I get in the tuk tuk with the crazy driver, who thinks it’s a good idea to pass the other tuk tuks on thin and rocky dirt roads at 70 km an hour. It’s fun, but definitely very bumpy.

The Blue Lagoon is gorgeous, but nothing at all like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. The water is a beautiful green-blue, but less opaque than in Iceland, and the water here is cold and filled with fish. There are rope swings hanging off a large tree wilting into the water, which people are jumping from in order to cool themselves off from the humidity in Laos today. We set up our towels on the grass and lay out in the sun for a while. After having the sun tan my front in the tube all day yesterday, I need to even out my back.

Someone suggests that we walk up to the cave, which I didn’t even know existed. I decide to go with them instead of tanning with everyone all afternoon, but am not prepared for the walk up the cliff to the cave. It’s 200 meters and probably about 80 degrees straight up, of rocks and a flimsy bamboo hand railing to help you up the steep side of the mountain to the mouth of the cave. It’s definitely a work out, but it’s fun to climb, even in the extreme heat. When we all reach the top I am dying, but excited to get into the cave. It’s got some light coming through for the first little stretch into the cave but we reach a point where it’s pitch black, and we only have our head lamps (which I hadn’t brought so I am relying on the light of the people behind and in front of me) to lead us further into the cave. It’s incredible just how black and rocky it gets, and in some spots there is water dripping down into pools on the ground but I have no idea where it comes from when we’re so deep into the mountain. It’s so interesting to me, until I see one too many huge spiders crawling on the ground and then I am creeped out especially when I know I can’t see even half of them. We all turn around when we’ve reached what feels like the end of the cave, although I’m sure there’s more to explore if you crawl through a small enough space, which I am not prepared for when I’m wearing a bathing suit and shorts.

I’m stoked to have the opportunity to explore a cave like this, without a guide or a bunch of lights on the wall leading me through and telling me all the history of it! I like the organic feeling of exploration, and it’s nice to have friends with me because I know I couldn’t do this alone without fearing the pitch black darkness of the cave. What if I got lost in here?

I have to do the entire cave in bare feet because all I’ve brought is flip flops which are slippery on the muddy ground, but it makes this feel even moooooore adventurous. I like the feeling of the mud between my toes. It feels free and it feels real, which is all I could ever ask for.

We get back to the light, and crawl down the mountain. I immediately hop in the lagoon to cool down, because climbing all over the cave and down the side of the cliff has made me really hot. We only spend a little bit more time lying out in the grass, before we get back in our crazy tuk tuk and go back to the guest house. The 6 of us girls go out for dinner and agree to meet everyone for drinks later at 8pm. We plan our next move, which is to kayak to Vientiane (the Capitol of Laos) the next morning at 9am. We were exaggerating when we thought tonight would be the last time we saw everyone because it turns out most people are traveling to Vientiane tomorrow too and we all decide to kayak together instead of taking trains and buses etc. Tomorrow night in Vientiane will actually be everyone’s last night together though, because we’re all only going there to use it as a vessel to get to our next destinations. I don’t think there is actually a lot to do in Vientiane, but we all have dinner and go out together one last time before parting ways.

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