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Simon’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 31 Dec 2005

Location: Vientien, Laos

MapNew Years Eve 2005. The last day of the year. ON occasions such as this it is important to look back at the year gone by and contemplate the joys, sorrows, hardships, and memories incurred along the way. Fortunately, this is neither the venue nor the time for such meditative contemplation!
New Years also marks the end of the holiday season. This one has been the most...interesting holiday season of all. Lao, what a place. Beautiful weather, beautiful people, beautiful scenery, and a laid back attitude to match. The kind of place that ten years would slip by and you wouldn't even notice.
Mark and Keuron and I came in from the North via China on a bus. WE basically did a strait line down the major Nothern highway to the capital Vientien. Highway is an overstatement. More like paved road twisting and winding through the rugged northern mountains. We stoped for three days in Luang prabang, which is a really scenic large town along the mighty Mekong. We did not do that much because we were so tired from the bus trip, but we did manage to go out to a village party on christmas eve. That was a sortid affair. Firstly we got taken there by a lady-boy, which for those of you unfamiliar with south-east asian (specifically Thailand) means pricely what the name implies, a lady that is in fact a man. We did not realize at first, although mark had asked whether or not she was a man or a woman and we dismissed his worries, and once we did we were standing on the side of the road out of town meeting her friends, which did little to assuage our fears. WE assumed that we were being loored out to the bushes to be sold into sexual slavery to a bunch of Lao men hungry for some tender western treats. Thankfully that was not the case. It was a normal village party (whatever that means!). Basically we hung out with Lao and drank Lao Lao (a type of rice wine). It was really awesome. We were the only non-lao there, which in Luang Prabang is impossible, so it was a real treat--one of those things that every tourist hating tourists hopes for.
Thats about it for Luang Prabang outside the mundane. Oh yeah, the rice wine made me really sick the next day so I spent christmas sleaping and shitting myself.
Next Stop, Vang Vieng, home to drugs, caves, and....well thats about it. Crappy little town alon the highway that has developed into quite the tourist stop. The town basically consists of a couple of dirt roads, guesthouses, restaurants, bars, and touring services. Its savign grace is its location. In a long a wide valley encassed by jagged limestone mountains with a peacefull river that runs through the southern fringe of the town. Other than location drugs seems to be the order of the day in vang vieng. All the restaurants serve muchroom shakes, and various weed dishes. Opium is also a tourist favorite. Bars sell opium tea and there a people selling the stuff everywhere. Despite its seediness the place is actually quite relaxing once you find the right places. We rented scooters one day and drove around the country side and went to check out a cave. It was HUGE. Over a km long and to get in you had to crawl up this tiny little tunnel after which you found yourself standing in a massive cavern. Really cool.
We spent three days in Vang Vieng, and it was really enjoyable. We went tubing down the river and basically just hung out and relaxed.
And now I am in Vientien, the capital. Not doing much. Mark and I are organizing our motorcycle trip which, due to visa delays, begins on the 4th. Its going to be really unbelivable. WE both rented 250cc Honda motorcross bikes for 14 days. Lao only has crappy scooters or big dirt bikes, so we chose the dirt bikes because of the route we chose and the roads that we will be using. We got maps, we talked to locals and expats who have done similar things before, and we figured out where to go and how to get there. Basically we are doing a huge loop around Nothern Lao. Its gonna be crazy. This is really going to be the road less traveled. We are going to get to see some serious shit. Can't wait!
And so now to New Years. NO idea what the night holds, but it should be good. We aare getting taken to some Lao party by this waiter guy we met (we checked, he's a guy). Let's see what happens.
Happy New Years