Very little sleep tonight, partly due to the availability of free wireless internet and partly as it took me over thirty minutes to fight of an invasion of flying ants – nature’s most stupidly-designed insects. There was a small gap between my room door and the floor and as soon as the light in my room was on they started to fly/crawl (upside-down) through said gap. I used about half a tin of insect repellant and a goodly portion of loo roll cleaning up the corpses.
Eventually to bed, waking at 9am and…
Sunshine! At last, the rain stopped – the day after a gazillion rockets were launched heavenwards to ask for more of the stuff. Fine by us and a large group of us donned swimming gear and walked round to the tube hire place.
Expensive thing 1: they’d put the price up since Friday when some of our group went for the first time. 40,000 Kip, plus the exchange rate on my dollar was sucky. Ah well. Still only around £2 for a day out. We collected our rubber rings, jumped into a tuk-tuk and were driven to the starting point a couple of kilometers away where we hobbled down a muddy walkway, chucked the aforementioned inflated doughnuts into the water and flopped lazily into them.
It’s harder work than it looks when the river’s calm and we paddled to the first stop where Beer Lao was on sale for the usual 10,000 Kip. After one of these I got up the nerve to go on the swing erected at the river’s edge. The platform from where I had to convince myself to jump was a whole 7m off the ground.
Grab swing, lean back, close eyes, leap, scream, splash.
Across the river was a flying fox run which was also proving popular, but I didn’t get a chance to swim across. Instead, after an hour or so we flopped onto our bums in the water and floated gently down to the next bar.
Expensive thing 2: I noticed my feet were bare. I’d left my sandals at the bar. Argh.
Expensive thing 3: I noticed my pocket was empty. Somewhere in 300m or so of water lies a fairly new Olympus 720sw camera with some really good pictures from today on it. Camera is insured via the credit card I got it with, but the pictures are irreplaceable – especially those of the other folks in my group who were relying on me to get snaps of them.
Still. Poop happens. I’ve emailed the insurance company and just have to figure out how I replace it. Hopefully this can be done on the road without having to return to the UK, but we’ll see.
This bar had a higher swing, maybe 10m up. Charlotte kindly donated a beer to the “get Iain drunk enough to jump off the thing” fund and I ws therefore destined to repay her.
Grab swing, lean back, close eyes, leap, scream (for much longer this time), splash.
Repetition was involved here as well. I think we stayed there for another hour or so as the sun baked down. There was an amazing field of butterflies next to the bar which was magical to watch – I wish I could have got a video of it. As people walked through, they erupted like intelligent gravity-defying snowflakes, then settled back to the ground again.
Expensive thing 4: My cash seemed to vanish somewhere, probably in the water as I was jumping off the swing. At least it was only 40,000 Kip or so. Not a huge amount but it meant relying on others for beer and tuk-tuk fares until we got back to the hostel. Thank you all and I hope I didn’t forget to return any money. If I did, there’s a contact link somewhere to the right!
The next bar was a small one, so we just sat in the shade – still floating in our tubes – and chilled for a while before moving on to the next bar with the biggest swing of the lot – maybe 15m in height. No more beers required by this stage!
By the time we set off, dusk was visibly approaching. It was after 5:30 and the rings needed to be back before 6:00 or we’d incur a fine. Our group split in two after half an hour or so. Some of us (myself included) jumped in a tuk-tuk near the end while the others continued right to the bottom. Bizarrely nobody asked us for our late fee so we legged it before they remembered to do so. The other group were asked, but just patted their pockets and said they had no money. This works every time, by the way.
So, time for a warm shower, some dinner (Mexican pizza – mmm) and off out for a few beers. We stopped at a bar where we bought a beer each and were rewarded with a free bucket of some rather scary spirits and ice. Nobody really wanted it so we used it as the forfeit in a drinking game. I played to lose, as ever. Unfortunately I was too good so everyone else got more of the free stuff!
Our group reduced in size again and five of us made our way to the Sunset Bar for a final beer, a natter and exchange of email addresses. Well, I dished out my cards – email me, people!
I finally crashed around 4:30am with an 8:00am rise to sort all my stuff out before catching the bus to Luang Prabang. I eased my aching frame into bed (hard work on the shoulders, and the inner elbows get some serious wear and tear on the tubes as you paddle) and zonked out in an instant.