Friday 16th November 2012
We were amazed that our mini bus arrived on time. Casper and Karen were already in the van and we just had to collect André and Christine from their hotel before driving to Vang Vieng. The van was not quite as smart as we were promised but the driver is careful and the really good news is he is prepared to take us on the second leg of our journey to the capital of Laos, Vientiane.
We started climbing almost immediately and the road was very twisty and went from tarmac to dirt and back to tarmac all the time so progress was slow. The views got more and more spectacular and we passed little villages with stalls selling various vegetables and fruit. After about three and a half hours we stopped for lunch. The restaurant was perched overlooking the mountains. Crouching on the loo before going to eat I had the best view ever! Open to the elements too - no windows. I had a lovely green curry and rice and Tony had chicken and ginger. All really good and cheap. This is the only road between the capital and Luang Prabang and our progress continues to be tortuously slow. We only stopped briefly at a couple of villages and to take some pictures when the views were particularly beautiful but even so it takes us seven and a half hours. Fortunately our hotel is lovely with fabulous views of the hills and river and lovely gardens filled with exotic flowers so we are pleased. The other couples have booked in different places around the town. We decided to eat in the hotel as we couldn't be bothered to walk round the fairly un interesting town. It has gained a notorious reputation as young travellers come here to try all sorts of extreme sports and tubing down the river. They stop at various bars down the way getting gradually more and more drunk. In recent months there have been several deaths so the authorities have clamped down and closed several of the bars. It is a shame as the countryside is so beautiful here. The town is very run down though.
We have an early night after a nice meal. The drive tired us out.