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Almost Died today

So my last post was the day of Tubing Vang Vieng.  After, we just headed back and chilled on the couches at our hostel (Amphone) with the little 15 year old hustler: Sou.  He basically is the doorman and pulls people into the rooms (only 30,000 kip).  He cracked a bunch of jokes, had a weird obsession with grabing our genetalia, and kept calling Duncan a ladyboy.  We woke up early on the 29th to head out for our day of Kayaking and Caving.  We were picked up with some Brits from our hotel and headed 14 km out of town to start kayakaing.  After some brief instructions, less than 15 secons after we were in the water one of the brits tipped their Kayak.  It was the type of kayak’s where your feet are outside of the boat, so they really weren’t stable.  By my count me and Duncan almost tipped ours 3 times (getting sideways through rapids.  After a short kayak ride we hopped off to explore the caves.  Me and Duncan figures we would be doing lots of hiking, so opted for shoes, but we immediately regretted it.  We just tied our shoes onto our waterproof bags, and went through the village barefoot.  It was basically like walking through a minefield, as we were dodging cow shit the whole time.  Once through the city we had a little walk through some rice fields, which was an amazing site.  We then had a short hike before we stopped at the enterance of the cave – looking like it had no room for our heads (roughly 10 inches that wasn’t flooded).  We had to wait for 1 hr while a tour group in front of us went through in tubes.  Once our turn our group decided to forget the tubes, and go at er with just our lifejackets on (like a zipline, you basically pull yourself through a set course with a rope).f  The guide leading spoke no english and didn’t bring a torch.  I was the one right behind him so I was more concerned with keeping my head straight so the guide could see where he was going.  It was an amazing limestone cave.  A couple of parts we had to crawl through the sand like a marine: only 18 inches.  we also stopped at this mud wall where the guide all of a sudden splashed mud all over my face: his way of indicating everyone should cover themselves in mud because it was good for your skin.  There was one part where a guide, two south americans and myself were way ahead of the others.  I was looking back when the girl all of a sudden yelled out.  I freaked out cuz she pointed at something moving towards my crotch and immediately thought the worse: SNAKE!  Thankfully no, it was just a cockroach like thing with huge wings that floated in the water.  After that the guide told me to lead everyone out of the cave, which I managed to do fairly well (aside from mistaking a split in the line for an intersection I didn’t recognize….it actually led to a dead end).  We then chowed down some lunch before stopping at the Elephant cave before boarding our kayaks again.  The  cave had a Buddha and some other statues but it’s main attraction was a rock that looked like a giant elephant.  I was dissapointed when my camera wouldn’t work in the dark.  After this we kayaked down river for a few km’s (a couple m,roe kayak tips by our group, including our guide when he tried to light a cig) before stopppin gat a bar along the tubing circuit we did the previous day.  It has a giant swing into the water, a waterslide, and some mud volleyball pits.  we had a beer here and relaxed for a bit before heading back to drop off our kayaks.  We chilled out in our hotel for a while before heading out for the dinner-bed resteraunts (Friends on TV again).  We pretty much stuffed our faces, and were bursting by the tip we ordered a banana + chocolate pancake for desert.  After dinner we headed back to chill the Sou on the couches.  After about 30 mins some Dutch guys we met the previous day chilled with us, and Sou tried to hustel them for some hookers.  We sat in awe at this spectacle (I gues it would be normal for the dutch) for a while, before no girls showed and we hit the hay.

Today

Today (the 30th) will be a day I never forget.  We got up at 07:00 and nabbed some quick breakfast before waiting for our bus to Luang Prabang at 08:30.  The tuk-tuk to take us to the bus station didn’t arrive until 09:15 – 15 mins after the bus itself was supposed to leave.  Once at the bus we basically sat there while the guy tried to maximize his funds by waiting until the bus filled.  With 8 of us in there we began yelling at him to hurry up and get us on the road…which he eventually did at 9:45.  At 9:55 his cell rang and we pulled a u-turn.  Apparently two more people showed up and he wanted to capitalise on it.  So roughly 65 mins AFTER SCHEDULED DEPARTURE we finally got on the road.  An hour later he pulled over and ordered himself food (nobody else hungry/eating).  We then rode on through some amazing scenery.  Laos has perhaps the greatest natural views the world has to offer.  Giant cliffs with huge trees hanging on.  Green everywhere.  We wound through mountain passes where little villages where scattered about the roadside before stopping at one.  Again the driver was the only one to eat up before we hit the road again.  We thought it was weird when we bumped into a Scottish friend of ours at the stop who told us his bus left 30 mins BEFORE ours.  The driver HAD been going fast, but that fast?

 

Well it turns out he had… The Scot’s bus left the rest-stop 10 mins before ours and we were soon barrelling down the mountain passes where we soon passed him.  Then we began to notice a light rain, and the slick blacktop…and yet no slowing down from the driver.  Then about 45 mins outside of Luang Prabang the worst happened.  We barrelled down a corner and the fat-idiodic driver tapped the breaks mid-corner.  I was in the back corner when the bus began to slide towards the rock face.  Unlike other situations I wasn’t that panicked as it seemed a somewhat slow (or “controlled” if you will) slide, even as the rockface came towards my side of the van.  But we slowed up and the car fell into the ditch, missing the rock by roughly 4 feet.  All I can say, if the corner was turning the other way (the cliff) we would definately have plummited either to our death or certain serious injury.  The worst part was after we came to a stop the driver laughed and got us all out tryng to help him push.  I was having none of it, but for some reason Duncan decided to help.  The rear axle looked busted, as it was slunk ridiculously low in the ditch, but after a quick minute of pushing they got it out.  No broken axle, we all started mouthing off the driver telling him to slow down for the rest of the trip…which he did for a brief moment (he was more content with talking on his cell phone while bragging about his crash to his friends, stearing with one hand).  So we made it to Luang Prabang – BARELY.  After such an experience, we opted to splurge on our own bedrooms for 50,000 kip a night, right off the riverside.  After a shower we wandered the town for a ATM (1 hr to find an ATM?!?!?!) before stopping at a pizza place for a filling dinner.  This town looks small, and we likely be done seeing it in 1/2 a day…. It should be fun, since we don’t fly to Thailand until August 2nd.

Until then

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