MOTORCYCLE DIARIES PT.1

30 05 2010
We decided to head north to the village of Vang Vieng on Friday and instead of taking the bus we decided to rent a motorcycle for the trip. Having the bike will enable us to explore more of the country and get off the already road less travelled. Laos is just about the best place to ride in SE Asia due to the relatively low amount of traffic and the slow traveling speeds required because of all the windy roads. So we left Vientiane around noon and proceeded as usual to get lost. I know it sounds like I lose my way a lot but there really are almost no road signs and maps are rarely drawn correctly so the best way to navigate is to just guess and then try to find someone who can tell you which way to go. We did finally find our desired route out of the capital after about an hour of running every which way around the city. We drove for about 3 hours through beautiful villages surrounded by lush green rice fields. We then passed through a mountainous area following a nice windy road up and over a pass before we ended up in a town named Thalat. We had originally planned on staying there for the night but it was still early and it was not raining yet so we decided to carry on. In town we where flagged down by a guy on who was also travelling by bike for a couple of days and who was strangely enough looking to exchange some money. After talking with our new found friend Martin and getting some directions we headed north and agreed to try to meet up later in the evening. The ride from Thalat to Vang Vieng took about 3 more hours and was quite nice again passing through many little towns and farms as well as winding through a lot of hilly terrain. We got into town and searched for our friends Paul and Jen for a bit before we eventually just got our selves a nice little bungalow near the river. We headed into town for dinner where we met up with Martin and eventually saw Paul and Jen who also joined us. All in all it was a great day and having the bike made for a great way to see the country. Now for a little bit of information about Vang Viang. I had hardly heard of Laos before this trip let alone a little place called Vang Vieng but since we have arrived in Asia we have been seeing people wearing shirts with the logo “Tubing In The Vang Vieng Laos”. So after we wound up in the country we decided to check out what the place was all about. This is one of the interesting things about travelling that you just eventually stumble onto a strange place like this one. Tubing down the river is Vang Viang’s main attraction not because you simply sit in a tube a slowly float down river but because of all the bars and activities that line both banks of the river along the way. There are dozens of them with guys waiting to toss you a rope and pull you to shore. There are rope swings, ziplines,water slides and diving platforms all over the place as well as places to play volley ball and tug of war it the mud. It was a bit of a party scene but you can still just relax and float stopping for the occasional beer here or there. The town is famous in Lao for a couple of other things one of them being the bars in town which for reasons unknown to me almost all play old episodes of the show Friends on multiple TV screens all day with the occasional place playing The Family Guy. One thing that might be able to explain the bars popularity is that if you see any items listed on the menu in these places listed as Happy, Funny or Special it usually has some kind of mood enhancing substance added to it. Sometimes the listing is no so discreet and things like mushroom or opium tea are just blatantly listed. Thankfully we learned about this before we arrived in town and managed to avoid a chemically induced mind altering experience and just had fun in other ways. The other thing the town has a lot of is adventure type activities of which we joined our friends Paul and Jen on a trip to do some caving, trekking and tubing. Although the trekking really consisted of some short walks between caves the the actual caving itself was great fun. We visited four caves some that where quite long with the last one being the most fun. The fourth cave called the Water Cave was just that filled with water so we entered by pulling ourselves in by a rope while sitting in a tube with a big ridiculous battery pack in our lap connected to a headlamp. After following the cave it the tube for a while the water got shallower and we got to a place where we could walk and crawl around for a bit. It was so amazing inside and you could hear the powerful water fall that fed the cave from where we stopped to turn around. After the last cave we finished out our activities for the day by tubing 4 km’s back to town. We stopped by a couple of bars and just had fun enjoying the whole scene. After cleaning up we met up with Paul and Jen for our last dinner together as we where both headed off in separate directions from here. It was a great pleasure finding some great people to travel with along the way and we really look forward to meeting up with them in the future either in London or NY. On Sunday we decided to go rock climbing so although I wanted to rent some gear and go and climb on our own Justyna really wanted us to get a guide. I am glad she convinced me as finding the place was quite a challenge and we would have probably spent most of the day trying to get to the base of the cliff. It was a really nasty approach with tons of mud, jungle brush and sharp rocks on the steep climb to the cliff. There really was no well-defined path to follow so having the guide was invaluable. Once there he helped out in an other way by climbing some hard routes and allowing us to follow as almost every climb was quite hard. We climbed six routes with nothing easier than a 5.10b. Our guide also made a BBQ lunch for us, which was just fantastic. The rock was sharp and almost always overhanging so needless to say our fingers and forearms where quite spent by the time we left. It was a great day climbing and we both pushed our selves really hard The guide said we where expert climbers and that it was the hardest route he had ever had to lead for a customer before. So we ended the day by going to a bar to have some dinner and watched about 4 episodes of family guy before finally crawling home and in to bed. Today we are taking the bike to a town called Phonsovan about 240 km’s away where we plan on visiting what is called the Plain Of Jars. Again as we head further from the city centers internet access is bound to decrease so I am not sure when my next post will be.

  

 

    

 

   

  

  

 

 

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3 responses

3 06 2010
marta

Ania and I have been checking for a new post, Motorcycle Diaries pt 1 amazing, can’t wait for pt 2.
love you
marta

1 06 2010
adam

Hello The Two of You,

Looks like some fun climbing and sloshing!

We just got back from your place last night at around 1. It was really nice and we had some great weather…but no climbing to be had. Wish you were around.
Thank You so much for letting us stay up at your place!

Was thinking that if when you better figure out your schedule that we may be able to meet up with you either in NY or in some far off place.

And as much as you say you aint hitting the Opium Tea that last message was a bit off.
Have the funs!

Adam

31 05 2010
M,D,M

Hi andrew and Justyna, The motor bike seems bigger than the last. Was the other one a scooter as compared to a bike? It is so nice that you have meet traveling friends to share some of your adventure with. Part of the blog did not come through.
It starts in mid sentence about getting the guide and ends without finishing a sentence at the end saying where you will be heading. Just checked again and it hadn’t changed so Dad said you probably lost your connection and didn’t know. Just passing info on.
Had a really nice visit with Aunt Janet and Uncle Roy. Uncle Roy was in dog heaven. He really liked Maggie and she is invited by Aunt Janet to visit when ever she wants.
Adam and Juliana stopped by yesterday on the way home from climbing Katerskill falls. Juliana in flip-flops. They went swimming at the top of the falls and did Mine Kill falls too. I think they have had a nice time and we have enjoyed there being around too. Take care and have fun M,D,M

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