Laos: Vangvieng

29/8We got picked up in the morning by a little tuk tuk to take us to the public bus for our transfer to Vangvieng. Things didn’t start too well as we couldn’t all fit onto the tuk tuk with the bags, so poor Ryan had to try and stack all of our bags in a corner for us in the blistering heat so we could cram in as best as possible. It still left Charles hanging onto the back for dear life, but we all made it there alive.
The bus to Vangvieng was quite the experience too- there were about 20 people on a school sized minibus- I’m not even sure how so many people got into such a small space without accidentally cuddling. We got on last meaning that the remaining seats available were on the wheel arch. Having small legs I thought I’d better take the seat directly over the wheel in the hope that Matthew would get off the bus with legs still attached to his body. 

It was somewhat uncomfortable and a long 5 hour journey, but I survived unscathed. There was an older American lady on the bus who was rather vocally unimpressed by the service, so I tried to bring her some comfort with horror stories of other journeys we had taken. 

I’d been really struggling to find ‘Hayley friendly’ (as my kind father in law calls it) food in Laos- there’s lots of bread which I really struggle to digest without tummy pain. Therefore I was really quite delighted to find a little lady at the side of the road barbecuing corn and sweet potatoes, so I could get a healthy snack for £1 to keep me going. She nearly got a kiss as a tip in honesty, as I was not feeling my cheeriest after a breakfast of white bread and fluorescent jam. I know I sound like an uncultured whinger, but unless you’ve experienced the hangar you just can’t know what happens to me- it’s like the beast awakens. Poor Matthew, I know and ironic given the nature of my last blog post. I’m becoming a ‘gap yar’- mental note to keep checking myself for privilege moaning. 
When we arrived in Vangvieng we headed straight out for a bicycle ride to the blue lagoon. Now, following ‘rice field gate’ as I’m calling it, the word ‘bicycle’ does send a little shiver of fear down my spine, but I seem to repeatedly pleasantly surprise myself. I did the 8k past cows and bulls and motorbikes and tuk tuks and really enjoyed it. I really think cycling might be my new hobby. I find it so relaxing and feel slightly guilty for the years of taunting James Farndon for his biking obsession (sorry James, if you’re reading). 

The scenery en route was exceptional. So many people have told me what a beautiful country Laos is and I hadn’t really researched much about it, so it was all rather a surprise. 
Rolling mountains litter the sky line and perfect rice fields are only interspersed by wooden houses and thundering rivers. It’s extraordinary and largely really untainted. I absolutely fell in love with it. I love the outdoors, I love the beautiful creation around us, I love real people living their lives in their interesting ways and Laos just ticks every ‘love’ box I have. 

We arrived at the lagoon area to be greeted by bright blue water surrounded by wooden huts for us to change in. We got ready to cool off and I took more than a few attempts to run and jump into the refreshing waters. The current was quite strong so it was a bit of a work out not to drift away, but it was amazing none the less. We all took our turns jumping in, and poor Mary managed to land on the only rock in sight and bashed her leg, but fortunately she wasn’t too badly hurt and no one else got injured whilst dive bombing. 

Some of the braver ones amongst us (Matthew included) climbed the tree which overhung the lagoon and we cheered them on as they jumped into the water. There was even a rope swing- Matthew tried his hand at being Tarzan before plummeting into the water below. It was so much fun, and even though it was busy with tourists, we had a great time. 

We headed back on our bicycles and enjoyed even more epic scenery as the sun dropped slowly towards the horizon. It was so peaceful and beautiful. Our world never fails to amaze me.