My next stop was a city about 4 hours by bus south of Luang Prabang in a city called Vang Vieng. This has become a huge backpacker hangout with restaurants with comfy seats showing continual reruns of all the "Friends" episodes. Nice and relaxing for a day or two but gets old quick. The scenery here is spectacular... surrounded by mountains and a river running through the edge. There are bungalows all around and it seemed more westerners than Laos'.
I also met up with my friends Paul and Correne again and we hung out for a few more days. It seems when you are on the trail you continue to run into the same people over and over again.
One of the main draws and quite a nice way to relax is tubing down the Nam Song River. You start out with an inner tube and a short ride on a tuk tuk to the starting point and then spend the day letting the river slowly take you back down stream to the starting point. There are many places to stop and have a Beer Lao or try some of their homemade whiskey called Lao Lao. They tell you the trip will take between 2-3 hours, although I know people that stopped many times along the way for a beer sample and it took 5+ hours to complete the trip. Definitely a great way to unwind and chill out for an afternoon.
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