It seemed like such a good idea – hiring bikes, and setting off into the countryside. And in the morning, it was. We cycled up and down the main north/south road, only occasionally being passed by motorbikes and an occasional bus, tractor or lorry. We haven’t seen a car for two days! We got to see some local villages, and see how the people of Laos live outside of towns – mainly in wooden houses, raised up from the ground. The girls continue to be brilliant ice-breakers in any situation, and more so here in Laos, where they obviously see less European children.
The Laos people are fascinated with their blonde hair, and all want to shake their hands and practice their “hello’s”.
Poor old Emily, she found it all quite exhausting, and ended up almost asleep on the back of the bike. It was alright for her, she didn’t have to do any pedalling, but Charlotte was completely whacked out, and overheated, by the time we got back to the guest house.
After lunch we though we’d be a bit more adventurous and head off the paved roads, and cross the bamboo bridge towards the villages on the other side of the river. Charlotte, who’d hired a child’s bike, decided to leave it behind and hop on the back of my bike, while Emily travelled on the back of Sarah’s.
On tarmac this had been okay, but on a bumpy cart track, uphill, it proved to be much more difficult. Eventually, at a village 6km from town, we turned around, and flagged down a tractor-trailer, which is the equivalent of a local bus. Charlotte and Emily climbed aboard, paid the driver his 5,000 Kip, and we waved them off before chasing them back to town.
The tractor driver was obviously related to Schumacher, and we were soon following a trail of dust, which then petered out. But all was well, and when we got back to the bamboo bridge, the girls were on the other side, waiting for us at our favourite sunset spot.
So we did it again, just sat and watched the sun sink over the mountains. The calm and peace was disturbed a bit by the arrival of the lorry and pickup owners, who drove their vehicles straight into the middle of the river to give them a good wash, thoughtfully downstream from the children from the boarding school, who were all having their bath in the river.
We almost went somewhere different for dinner, but in the end we didn’t move, and stayed on the terrace for another delicious, 5 Pounds, dinner. Vang Vieng is an amazing place, where you can eat great food, with a million dollar view, for less than one Pound each. Already we know that we’re falling in love with Laos, because it doesn’t seem to have the ‘hassle’ that accompanies travel in most Asian countries.