Kayaking down to Vientiane

5 Mar
Kayaking into town...

Kayaking into town...

I was on many buses, trucks, boats, cars, mopeds, bikes and planes already, but when I saw it was possible to kayak down the river from Vang Vieng to Vientiane, I definitely wanted to give this a go. It sounded a bit like ‘kayaking to work’ or ‘going shopping by kayak’ – never t-done that before. I basically just signed up in one of the travel agencies (after bargaining the price down to 170000 Kip (17 euro)). Going by bus would be half the price, but this would include lunch, company and fun (sort of).

Having bought into one of these activities also meant that I was going to be thrown together with other people that booked the same trip, which in itself is an interesting experiment.

Getting down to the river

Getting down to the river

The group was composed of a number of drunkards with hangover – of which there’s many in Vang Vieng (they happened to be Irish & English – what a coincidence…), an Anglo-Australian hairless couple that had just spent a month in a Thai monastery to get ordained as monk & nun (hence bye bye hair), 2 young frail Dutch girls that seemed they would break if you’d touch them, a German army guy showing off his muscles but shitting his pants when it came to the cliff jumps (read on) and dragging around a 25kg backpack and a few more serious and silent people hanging with the party crowd or being forced to be with the over-talkative German army guy because they happened to speak German (I all of a sudden didn’t).

And there was I observing the whole lot, doing some polite conversation, just enough to know who to avoid, and whom I could have some sensible chat with… At a moment like this I do notice I am getting old. (More for VIPs here)

Riverside barbecue

Riverside barbecue

When hearing the English and Irish boasting about the type & amount of drink they had and the effect it had on their hangover, I definitely felt like an alien (as if it is normal to have a hangover regularly – mine probably dates from a decade ago). When seeing the German army guy and his overweight backpack (he was going camping) I was thinking of the hole in my back from my 13kg rucksack – so I would rather throw half out (as I did) than taking more. And the Dutch girls talking about their school and teachers… No, a ‘thirty something guy’ doesn’t fit in on Kayak trips from Vang Vieng.

Lovely scenery...

Lovely scenery...

But then, when we had to go through a rapid, the excited boy in me jumped out. Nearly all of the group capsized, but our kayak didn’t – hehe. We stopped just after the rapid for our barbecue lunch, prepared by the tourguides (who were also smelling of liquor). To pass the time while cooking, they suggested to jump into the rapid for fun (see youtube). The boring old grown up in me thought: ‘that’s something for the young ones, I don’t need to prove myself’. But after a bit of pushing from the macho guys, I gave it a go – and it was soooo much fun. I need a little convincing, and then the little boy comes out ;-)

Of course the party people brought awful party music...

Of course the party people brought awful party music...

Same thing a few miles down the river (beautiful scenery by the way, not a house, boat or people in sight). There was a crawl path up the rocky shore to a cliff about 10 or 15 meter higher. And, as guides do, they challenge the people to follow after them and do one of those crazy jumps – plunge – into the river (see youtube). Having liked the jump into the rapid, and the swings & slides during the tubing so much (once I had given it a go), I was more easily coaxed into this one, even though it looked veeeeeery high (and even higher once on the cliff). After I jumped into the void, the water never seemed to come – and then all of a sudden the surface of the water disappeared… above me – and took a looooong time to come back under my chin level. So I must have kept my eyes open under water – unfortunately also my nose – so I had a nice tasting of the Nam Lik river…

But I did it nevertheless – and was shaking for half an hour after…

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