7. Riding The Rails: Vang Vieng
From a quartet we’d been reduced to a trio, not that mattered much as we all had traveled in various combinations before with usually the same hilarious experiences.
A quarter to three we arrived at Vang Vieng Station, David had left the train at Luang Prabang an hour earlier.
For Vang Vieng, I had prepared myself and selected a guesthouse, so at least we had a name to tell the driver!
The station wasn’t that far out of town and a little later we were dropped off in front of something that looked suspiciously like a luxury hotel with prices in US dollars!
At the reception they told us that the guesthouse was gone, replaced by their fancy hotel...
'Would we like a room, special promotion!'
'No thanks', we departed and very quickly found a more budget-suitable place: Khamphone Guesthouse.
This of course had to be celebrated with a small beer-tasting session!
Well fortified by this liquid meal we set off on a walk through town, wandered towards the river, crossed a rickety bridge, returned via a slightly better one, and continued exploring.
After a while, we decided that a drinking stop was in order before dinner and discuss our impressions so far.
Unfortunately, these were mostly negative, we considered this place a dump, despite the fantastic surrounding countryside for which Vang Vieng is rightly famous.
The high number of tourist-related shops (activities, massage, restaurant, hotel, rental, guesthouse, etc.) combined with an overall shabby appearance made us seriously doubt whether we should bother with another night here…
A short walk brought us to the riverside and just by sheer luck we entered a tourist eatery BUT without music:
Don’t misunderstand me, I love music, have a ridiculously large collection, and am listening to Wes Montgomery while writing this, but at times I prefer not to listen to any.
The restaurant had a large terrace with great views of the Karst mountains in the distance and the sounds of insects, chickens, and assorted fowl provided a perfect background soundtrack.
Checking out the menu
The food was a bit different from what we expected, but still very acceptable, especially with some beer Lao to wash it down.
This way the day ended on a positive note we all agreed!