Monday, December 19, 2011

Capital Hill

Hey girl hey
Oh hey you... what's up from Vientiane, Laos. After spending two nights in the boonies of Vang Vieng (a.k.a. the very lovely organic farm about 1.5 miles outside of town) we spent the next two nights in the heart of the small city. Byebye to the goats and the quiet farm life and hello  to the loud, busy and drunk streets of the downtown. We settled on a guide book recommended spot that has a gorgeous view of the river, stunning karsts, a free breakfast and angry fighting french neighbors. This area of Laos is known for it's rock climbing, even though the sport is actually very new here, so we decided to give it a shot. We decided with some guy named Adam, legend has it that he brought climbing to Laos. Whatever the truth, he charges the most (but perhaps this is an activity for which you want to pay more?). We spent some time finding the right sized gear for us, and settled on two very stinky, questionably safe harnesses and well worn shoes. The rock climbing spot was on two sharp facing rock walls. Luckily we knew what we were doing because the safety and rock climbing 101 was about a couple minutes long. We started climbing and could immediately feel the difference between limestone here and the granite we are used to at home: limestone freaking hurts. We climbed about seven routes and munched on some rice, spicy!!! chicken delight. Post lunch we climbed a couple more routes but quickly noticed that we were sore and weak. But the last climb was nice, hanging over the river, and exposed to the extremely rough elements of drunk frat boys, sunshine, and fresh air. Washed our hair, shaved our pits and headed over some grub. Plopped down at some riverview, dr. dre playin' restaurant where we invited ourselves over to the table next to us. We spent the rest of the night eating and chatting (and sharing redbull infused whiskey buckets) with Joe and Craig, of Wales and England. Nice guys. Tina went "tubing" and Brooke went swimming the following day.
Apple's, our rock climbing guide,

So, tubing is fun. Yeah. Tubing. At least that's what the whole spectacle of Vang Vieng started out as. Today, most people just walk between bars along the river, which is what we did. At every bar they pour a shot in your mouth, give you a bracelet, and tell you to get your groove on. It is similar to Spring Break Cancun, but on a river, in Asia, next to homes with little kids running about unaware of the ensuing alcoholism. But it was fun. It's kind of sad to see this beautiful city being over run by disrespectful and drunk foreigners who don't abide to the Lao customs or dress code but cest la vie!
Enjoyed the delicious Lao coffee, baguettes and headed off for our day of kayaking to Vientiane. The ride was ridiculous because we were piled into a tuk tuk with 8 other people and by the end of the hour and 1/2 ride we were two shades darker from all of the sand. And did we mention the poor road conditions here? But we finally made it to the river where we got our 5 minute instructions on how to paddle and what to do in the rapids, and we were off!
Day one hundred and thirty two. Still no sign of the mystical white gorilla. The river has become one long strand of liquid numbness in my head.... aka Tina is on drugs.
Kayaked for an hour and hit our lunch spot, the best cliff spot everrrr! The guide started out with some pussy jumps and then gradually the guide took Brooke to some places that made you want to throw up. The giant of the group jumped in and after he survived, I figured there was a pretty good chance I wouldn't die. The impact pushed Brooke's top over her head, took off an earring and I think there is still water in my nose.Tina did the pussy one.
We kayaked for another hour and then took a less claustrophobic tuk tuk ride for the remaining 2 hours to Vientiane. Tina's legs are so tan!
Anyway, Vientiane is the new capital of Laos, with a huge French influence from the mid-century colonization of the country. And it has some pretty good Indian food as we've ordered that every night. The mix of expats, loc-dogs, that whole communism thing, and Thailand across the river make it a pretty interesting place. We went to the Laos National Museum, where, without giving any historical explanation, there seems to be a directed hatred of the "U.S. Imperialists and their puppets." Good baguettes they got here. After doing a bit of research on, supposedly post '75 the government created a new history for the country which includes mixing up what the Vietnamese or Chinese did with the U.S.... no big deal, where as the elderly Lao people just play along.
Yesterday Brooke went to the Sengarda Fitness Center here in Vientiane. For 65,000 kip (9 bucks) you get a free massage, steam/sauna room, tea service, gym equipment, a clean pool, and aerobic classes. It was awesome and weird to find yourself at a gym on vacation but it was actually fun.
Tina, after Brooke brought him to the guesthouse, convinced Joe to join her in renting bikes and riding to the Buddha Park. About 7 miles in, only slightly covered in dust, Joe said he hated me as a friend. He stopped talking to me for the next 4 or 5 miles. Once again, the road conditions aren't the best here and I am very surprised that the bikes we rented didn't just fall apart. But we made it, sunburns and all, and it is a very interesting park. More than 50 rock statues of Buddha and other gods. We paid 150,000 kip for a tuk tuk back into town.
Tonight we head to 4,000 Islands on the southern tip of Laos by overnight bus.


=Learn sumthin=
Sa Bai Dee- Hello
Khoy Sa Bai Dee, Khop Chai- I'm fine, thanks
Khoy Khit Hot  Chao- I miss you
Khop Chai, Lai Lai- Thank you very much

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