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Sunday, February 24, 2008

One More For the Road

Vang Vieng: as much Khao San Road as it was Ko Surin. A beautiful borderless green countryside, and the only bad part is you have to stay in Vang Vieng, this giant plastic tourist camp where nothing is more than ten years old and people mindlessly wolf down Western food while watching constant reruns of "Friends." Thankfully I spent as much time out of town as possible and saw some truly fantastic scenery, climbs limestone mountains, went spelunking in underground caves, and biked my ass sore through the lush mountain valleys.

Where I was staying ... a glimpse of tourist blight in front of green mountains.

Ah, outside of town ... that's better.

Nice flag! Where's that?


A view from up there.

Nice hikes with friendly strangers.

Let's go spelunking!

Inside the caves.

Hero pose.

Biking 26km is easy when its through landscapes like this.

And now I'm in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage sight that is as beautiful as it is old. French shophouses line the streets alongside an old royal palace (now a museum) and ancient Buddhist wats, the long peninsular town comfortably nestled within the mountains with two rivers on either side. The whole scene is typically Laos: slow and comfortable, interesting yet low-key, old and traditional, beautiful and budding with new. I've been here for a couple of days, and I've even met up with fellow Jilin'er James. Tomorrow evening I leave, for a (hopefully painless) twenty-four hour bus ride back into China.

And so I stand on the precipice of the end: this trip, at long last, is coming to a close. It's been fantastic, unforgettable, fun and relaxing and awe-inspiring and, in every sense of the word, truly awesome. But more on that later; more Vang Vieng pics here.

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