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Week 4 - Southern Laos

Vientiane, Konglor Caves and 4000 Islands

After a few nights in Vang Vieng we moved onto the capital city Vientiane by bus. When we went out everywhere was closed early and government guards were patrolling the streets as there was a international summit about Lao- European relations. As we were having a drink outside our guesthouse, there were groups men not wearing any official uniform roaming the streets with AK-47 machine guns, telling people to go back to their rooms!
Vientiane was not the most appealing of places and there wasn't a great deal to do or see so we only stayed there for two days. We then got got a 10hr bus heading south towards the Kong Lo Caves. The views from the bus were incredible, the roads cut through the mountains so there was stunning scenery pretty much the whole way on either sides.
We arrived at Konglor as the sun was going down so we quickly booked ourself into the one and only guesthouse in the village. Konglor was literally in the middle of knowhere and being there was the first time since trekking that we felt cut off from civilisation!
The next morning we woke up early and made our way don to the Konglor Caves. The caves were amazing, 7.5km of underground cave which took about 40 minutes to get to the other side. We travelled through on a longtail boat that was skillfully navigated by our guide, apart from one occaision where we ran aground and had to get out and move the boat in the darkness. We used headlights to see the incredible views through the caves. We were surprised by the huge scale of the caves, openings and high cave ceilings the size of concert halls were broken up by impressive staglegmites. Roughly 100m into the caves we got out of the boat to an area of stalegmites that had been lit up so you could walk through and see them in detail and take some good photos.
After seeing the caves we quickly moved on towards the 4000 islands. The journey was not the greatest of trips, we took a 4hr tuk tuk to the nearest bus station then jumped on a 14 hr bus to get to the river crossing where we took a short boat ride to Don Det one of the two main islands of the 4000 islands, along with Don Khong. We turned up very early in the morning and after some breakfast we found some accomodation. We stayed in a basic but cool place called paradise bungalows. These were essentialyy wooden shacks on stilts overlooking the mekong river. They also had hammocks on the balcony which were so chilled.
The island was really chilled out with all sorts of animals roaming the paths freely. It was a very beautiful place but the weather wasn't great for the most of the time and as it is rainy season, the mekong was brown and dirty compared to the clear river in the dry season. Despite this, we still had some good weather spells and managed to hire bikes and explore the islands which were very beautiful and green. We visited waterfalls and a kind of river beach that was also picturesque at sunset, we tried to swim here but the sand turned into sinking sand as josh found out when we pushed him in and he was flapping about making a tit of himself panicking!
During one of the flash heavy downpours a local man invited us into his house for some shelter where he forced us shots of Lao Lao whisky that was rancid and not the ideal mid morning tipple!
We had a lot of trouble with our bikes due to the bumpy, uneven roads, with our chains and pedals falling off willy nilly. Josh had the worst of the luck and after we came out from the waterfall about 5km from where we were staying, his front tyre was completely flat so after jogging a fair while he got a local man to fix it on the side of the track who was very friendly and helpful much like all the Lao people we encountered.
In the evenings we chilled at bars on the riverfront and chilled in the hammo cks watching the sun go down.
The place we stayed at was run by a Lao family that were helped out by an amerian hippy couple, Lance and Donna. They were hippies in their 60s, who for the most of time sat jamming on a guitar, smoking doobs all day, but were friendly and helpful nonetheless.
After a few days here we had seen most of the islands and decided to move on, heading to the Cambodian border.
See you on the flipside,
The three musketeers x
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Posted by Ben-Rob-Josh 04:26

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