|A much shorter (6 hr) bus ride took us to Vang Vieng, Laos. It seemed to be "the" backpacker place to go, so we thought it would be fun to check out and break up what would otherwise be another long busride. Travel in Laos is painstakingly slow. They only just finally (we were told) finished "paving" most of these major roads between the big cities. However, they were often little more than a lane wide and the paving job had already worn down and broken up in many places. A drive that would take maybe 3 hours cruising down I-5 in the US, for example, would take 2 or 3 times as long in Laos. Not only were the roads bad, but the buses are ancient and then you always have to contend with the various road obstacles such as livestock, dogs, children, broken down vehicles, etc. Fortunately I was able to sufficiently dose myself on dramamine to sleep through some of this, but Caleb suffered through the worst of it during all three of these fun rides so far in Laos. The town was very pretty, set against the backdrop of huge limestone karsts that come shooting straight up from the earth. Pictures, as always, don't do the place justice. Big thunderstorms have continued to roll through each day in Laos, usually only lasting a couple of hours before the blazing hot sun comes out again to dry up all the mud. However, it did put a bit of a damper on our plans for Vang Vieng--we wanted to rent bicycles and ride a 14km round-trip to some caves out past the city, but had to be content with some smaller caves just a short walk from town. It actually was a very beautiful walk and there were no other tourists around so it worked out in the end. There was a big crowd of young backpackers and many bars aimed toward drunken revelry, but we were able to find a cute bungalow on the outskirts of town and avoid all of it. Caleb and I both felt old compared to many of the "kids" that are travelling.