Vang Vieng

Not one to normally use a gif, but I feel like for this post it’s a necessity as this is my current mindset:

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I’m going to try and tell you about the most intense day I had during my South East Asia travels. Bear with me, it’ll be a longer read than normal.

In Vang Vieng we went kayaking along the Mekong River, which as a statement by itself sounds pretty great.

Not so much when you add in capsizing four times – one of those times being in a kayak with one of the guides.

I’ll spare you the details of each capsize, but one involved myself and kayak buddy J getting stuck in a tree in the river and yours truly swimming out from under the boat, drifting away in the current and having to swim upstream to get back to the kayak.

Thank the Lord for the guides who helped us get back in to the boat and got us to the halfway point. Both J and I agreed to go with a guide for the next part of the journey. In our slim defence – it was the rainy season and the  current was rather strong. (Really, though, we were just dreadful.)

Despite the capsize mid-rapid with the guide, he did make my life much easier and it was nearing the end of the 20km that I begin to relax and enjoy the views, which were absolutely mesmerising.

The guide and I were far in front and despite the flowing water, there was such a stillness. The sky was sheer grey, making the green of the mountains muted but nonetheless, there was such a grand, unassuming beauty to them.

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Relieved to see the last of the kayakking, after lunch we went tubing. I was much better at steering myself in a tube than I was in a boat. Tubing was so relaxing and spectacular, which I think is a rare combination.

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However, the day had gone from overcast to bright sunshine. It had been so overcast, I had made the grave error of not re-applying suncream.
“Does anyone feel like they’re on fire?” J called out, as we floated along the river.
“Yup,” I cheerfully called back, looking down at my pasty legs and wondering how red they would become. Spoiler alert: very.

In the meantime, I just sat back, enjoyed the views and floated along.

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Later that day, we went to the Blue Lagoon but with it being the wet season, it was more so an underwhelming Brown Lagoon.

“Shall we check out the cave?” was the fatal suggestion.

What we thought would be a walk up some stairs, was a twenty minute scramble up a 90 degree cliff face. Most of us were in flipflops. Once we got in to the cave it was so dark and so slippy. My chest was tight with panic with the thought of falling and I couldn’t help it – I cried. I was simply overwhelmed from the day. The shining silver lining to this situation was how much my group looked after me. They were like my family throughout the trip and in that moment I felt incredibly loved by them all. (If any of you are reading this, thank you.)

We did not stay in the cave long and I have never been so relieved to be on flat ground. I was so sweaty and muddy, I craved jumping in to the water, even though it was brown and by this point it was raining. Without thinking, I climbed the ladder on the tree to the highest branch you could jump off. I only realised how high it was once I was up there. 15 feet at a guess.

There have been moments on this trip, climbing the waterfall, capsizing, a puppet show, where I have physically felt fear and not sure whether I can do it.

Then I’ve taken the plunge.

Jumping in to the water, I felt such a roar of adrenaline. It was glorious.

I don’t know if you can define bravery as being terrified but doing it anyway – I certainly didn’t feel brave – yet I feel like it’s something I can be proud of.

Finally, we were at the end of the day. It was only when we were back in the hotel I realised how bad my sunburn from the afternoon was.

My legs resembled raw bacon.

Aftersun did nothing to soothe them, nor did Aloe Vera.

I asked the group for advise and H was quick to suggest plain Greek yoghurt. I looked at him dubiously, but he promised it would work. I decided to give it a go.

Oh my. It was magnificent.

 I could feel the cooling effects immediately. If you ever get very badly sunburned, definitely try plain yoghurt.

To end my day of capsizing, crying in a cave and agonizing sunburn, I sat in Irish pub with my legs smeared in plain Greek yoghurt, eating a pie. It’s the stuff every traveller dreams of, I’m sure.

***

I tried a different style in my last blog, which seemed to get a good reaction so I’ll definitely try that again with future posts. Thanks so much to everyone who read and liked it!

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One thought on “Vang Vieng

  1. Pingback: Byron Bay | The Little Sail Boat

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