|Our tuk-tuk guesthouse to bus station transfer in Luang Prabang|
The bus journey from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng was through some of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes we have seen anywhere. It is a fabulously sublime mountain landscape of towering, jagged limestone spires, massive mountains, endlessly deep valleys, all covered with lush tropical jungle and the most surreal skyline of a jumble of spires and craggy tops in high, remote mountains. The road is relatively well maintained with potholes and rough surfaces not that common, but it is a fairly narrow road twisting tightly as it hugs the sides of mountains with steep drop offs, making passing other trucks and busses a slow affair. Other than the road, overhead power cables alongside the road and the occasional village it looked relatively untouched, inaccessible as it is.
|Journey break on a high mountain col. That big bus was ours|
|What is this? It looks like bear paw wine!|
Why this journey isn't noted as a major scenic drive I don't know. Its true that quite a few people on the bus were throwing up, not because of bad driving, quite the contrary, our driver was very good, it was just the twisting road as it weaved its improbable course through the terrain, up and over high cols and all the way back down again, but we were OK. If we'd have known how good it was going to be we may have hired a private vehicle so we could stop at will for photos, as it was we had to take photos through the window of a moving vehicle and, of course they never come out well.
|Scenery captured through the bus window on the move|
|More journey photos|
|Off on our bike trip to the Blue Lagoon|
|Olga and Jackie|
|Views on the way|
|The quad bike/go cart convoys|
After arriving and chilling out back we wandered into town, found a really nice local restaurant serving Lao food and had a spicy and full flavour Lao red curry, wow!
Wandering along the road we bumped into Olga a lady
of Ukranian relatives but born in northern Britain. She's about our age and on a 4 month trip on her
own, with one month to go, and she seemed in need of company. As it happens she
is staying at our guesthouse, so joined us for breakfast on the terrace next
morning. We had met her briefly the previous day in Luang Prabang at breakfast
as she hurried to catch her mini bus to VV, so we had something in common and,
since then we have done most things together.
|Hand weavers in road side shops|
|Jackie finds a kitten at the volunteering place|
|Jackie, Brian and Olga|
|The Blue Lagoon|
|The sun bathing area|
|Olga and Jackie sunbathing|
|One of the scarf shops|
|In the chill out bar waiting for sunset|
|The final rays of the day|
|Just after a hot air balloon came gliding by|
|The walk out to the Tham Chang cave today|
Today, laid back breakfast on the terrace and then a walk to Tham Chang cave, just down from our guesthouse and set high up in another limestone karst. Over the bridge, past the food sellers, boiled peanuts in shells (interesting, soft but quite nice) and coconut cakes (also interesting, quite nice but wouldn’t bother again), a little walk around the edge of the limestone towers to look at the ice blue and perfectly clear small rivers pouring out of caves and under little bridges (they should be made of bamboo Olga insisted) and then up the hundred or so steps to the cave.
|Crystal blue mountain waters|
No-one else wanted to run up for fitness as I did halfway until the need for breathing overtook the need to keep running. This cave was fully lit with a concrete walkway, but was still absolutely fabulous, big and wide with small bits off that Jackie had to squeeze through (that’s Jackie!), bottomless holes and hugely picturesque with all its limestone stalactites, mites and flowstone. Very worthwhile.
|Saw this moth in one of the caves, isn't it fabulous!|
|The steps up to the cave|
|There must be some climbing up thee surely|
|In Tham Chang Cave|
|The chill out terrace at our guesthouse|
|There's a lot of hot air in there, and its not coming from me!|
|Another night and another sunset!|
|Pancakes on the way home from a street food stall|