Matt and Cynthia's Odyssey travel blog

Vieng Xai scenery

Matt's digital macro shot

Cynthia with our new friends drinking Lao lao (rice whiskey) & Beer...

Group shot (left to right - Matt, Sophie, Joni, Cynthia & Daniel)

This morning we decided to rent a scooter and drive over to the next town, Vieng Xai. Vieng Xai is the former Pathet Lao revolutionary headquarters and, among other things, it has at least a dozen caves, which were used during the war as military hide-outs. Matt was very excited about this, me- not so much, but I thought the scenery would be good. The winding drive was very nice with plenty of rice fields dotting the landscape along the way. We stopped for lunch (baguettes and Laughing Cow) at a village along the way and Matt performed his magic trick for the local kids (they were more interested in the candy we had, I think). When we were very near Vieng Xai, we saw a huge limestone cave just off the road so we parked to go see. It turned out to be really neat inside with a creek flowing right through the middle of it; unfortunately, we didn't have a good torch with us so we couldn't investigate much. We traveled on to Vieng Xai and went to the tourist office (cave tours and maps) but they were closed for lunch. We had a good look at the map outside and decided to try and find a couple of the caves ourselves. Predictably, we didn't find any caves and we ended up getting caught in a vicious rain storm while in the middle of a corn field (on foot). We got soaked driving back to the tourist office but there was a little shelter there so we decided to wait it out. Just as the rain slowed, the guide showed up and we sloshed into his office to ask about a tour. While we waited to get things sorted out, we were surprised to see Sophie, Daniel and Joni walk in, we were quite happy to see them. The group of us, a Canadian and a couple of Frenchies (excuse me for the liberty) went on the cave tour and had a really good time. The walking tour took about 2-3 hours and we visited several of the most important caves including a cave that the president of Laos used as his residence for 9 years during the war- all very interesting stuff. After the tour, Matt and Joni drove the scooter to the market while Daniel, Sophie and I walked over. We were invited by a few locals to join in their post wedding party (one of them had gotten married the day before) and we enjoyed several shots of Lao Lao rice whiskey (local moonshine) and plenty of Beer Lao, the alcohol flowed freely. This was my first experience with Lao Lao and I think Sophie described it best when she likened it to paint stripper. We had a really good time, drinking and chatting until the sun set. Matt and I had to get the bike turned in by 7:30pm so we took our leave, sadly, we knew we were not going to see our friends again (they are headed to Vietnam tomorrow).

To the Midnight Bus Gang: We really enjoyed hanging out with you guys! Hope to see again, somewhere........

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