We duck up to Joma – the French bakery and get coffee and croisants for breakfast, so good. 8.30am we load up the 2 minivans for the trip to Van Vieng, 7+ hours over a very rough road. The journey from Luang Prabang to Vientiane can be done in 2 hours on the Chinese financed train but we do it the hard way. the trip by road would be 7 hours to Vang Vien + 3 hours to Vientiane.
Vang Vien is a former US airforce base in the Vietnam war, I think Mel Gibson was in a movie based on that base called Air….. something. It was also an adventure spot for young Australians and Americans with lots of drugs involved. We hear about the Aussie who drowned after swimming after having a mushrrom milkshake. Americans stupid Aussies stupider. The town is on the Nam Song River, quite a fast flowing river.
The road is long, winding, steep and so rough its unbelievable the vehicles can handle it, The road is narrow and passing trucks on corners is a hair raising experience which happens often.
The limestone karst mountains are pointy and steep with jungle and the occassional paddock cleared for some sort of farming. Quite often you are looking over a cliff edge as you drive, its a bit scary, probably not as scary as the road up to Kathmandhu but rougher. There are plenty of great photo shots but rarely is there room to stop a vehicle. One of our passengers virtually yelled at the driver to stop so he could get a photo, needless to say this person is now on everyones blacklist.
Lunch is at a spot the is 1350 metres above sea level and we climb higher again, maybe to 1500-1600 meters above see level. As we get closer to Vang Vien you can see rice paddies on the lower country.
We arrive in Vang Vien pretty busted, so its a quick orientation walk around after we get our gear to the rooms then dinner before retiring for the night. Tomorrow we’re going for a swim at the Blue Lagoon and after that some of us are kayaking don the river.
Ciao from Pauolo