A few of us got up around 5am to head down the road where a traditional alms giving ceremony takes place every morning. For anyone who doesn’t know- that’s when locals line up with food to give to the monks. The monks come in different waves because they’re coming from different temples and not all the monks from every temple attend. The problem, however, is that tourists are buying food from vendors off the street to participate in the ceremony so it’s becoming less of a tradition and a culture and more of a tourist attraction. I understand wanting to participate, but you’re just encouraging bad behaviour from these vendors and they don’t even sell you food that the monks can eat (the locals five fresh food/rice etc). Not to mention, giving food to them has no meaning to you, or at least not the kind of meaning it has for the locals. It made me especially angry seeing tourists get up close and personal to take pictures- Monks are NOT animals in a fricken zoo. Anyways, rant over, I still enjoyed the experience thoroughly and got some pictures from afar/ it was beautiful seeing the city so quiet when we got up.
We all piled into one bus this time, granted it was a little bigger than the ones we took originally, but still a little too close for comfort so I ended up moving to ride shot gun- which made for better picture taking anyways. Although for most of the 6-7 hour drive we were in a cloud. It’s crazy how quick it went from dry to wet season, it rained practically the whole way there and when we were driving through the mountains it was entirely white.
The drive still managed to be beautiful though, there’s tiny villages just on the edge of the mountain that if they walked out their front door would practically be on the road. We stopped for lunch, and continued for the last couple hours!
Vang Vieng is very much a tourist town and apparently has a tourist to locals ratio of 9-1. A little backstory- Vang Vieng became a thing in the Vietnam war when the states started sending in supplies, from then it became an entirely tourist influenced town- and not necessarily in a good way. It’s known for its river tubing attraction and up until 2012 there was an average of 26 tourist deaths a year from people getting wasted at riverside bars, these bars all had a different way to then get back into the river- giant slides, launching yourself off a platform… Sounds hella fun, if you’re not in a potentially shallow river and black out drunk! So the Laotian government came in and turned the place around, there’s still tubing and there’s still 3-4 riverside bars, but they alternate between families so everyone is benefiting (communism, amiright?!). It’s still a huge destination on the backpackers circuit in Southeast Asia, and tourists still out number locals, but apparently it’s quite a different town!
We got here around 5 to our beautiful guesthouse which feels more like a resort- we’re on the river and each have a front porch, not to mention the rooms are huge.
I didn’t get any sleep on the bus because I was playing photographer so Katie and I crashed until family dinner at 8 where we went to Ohlala! It was super tasty and about five seconds away. Oh something I forgot to mention, Vang Vieng is like one street long, but absolutely jammed with stores, bars, restaurants, guesthouses and people. (I would say it’s also much cheaper than Lang Prabang.)
Most of the group went out after dinner, but Katie and I decided on a night in so we went to a corner store for snacks- THEY HAVE TIM TAMS! Which I had never tasted before, but heard amazing things and they’re from Australia I think?! So we obv had to get them and let me tell you, they’re worth the attention wow. We actually found a TV channel in English and it was HBO so, winning.
We finished watching Draft Day and fell asleep to the Sixth Sense/ I turned it off because I would’ve cried in fear…