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Tag Archives: Caves

Phranang Beach… and the most penises I’ve seen in my life

In conversation recently, I was asked what my favourite beach in Thailand is. Of what I’ve seen, I think I would have to say here:

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The water was perfect for swimming, the white sand perfect for lounging, the caves ideal for exploring, and the ingenious longtail boat restaurants made for a tasty beach picnic. The whole setting was something out of a photograph, a gift of nature that one could only hope to see. Aonang.com claims that this beach was voted one of the ten best beaches in the world. Who polled that, or when, I’m not sure because sadly there isn’t even a beach in Thailand on the National Geographic list. However, the beach surely is gorgeous; add to the fact that it’s not really a resort beach (I think there were only one or two in the general vicinity) or a party beach makes it that much more special. Read the rest of this entry

Vang Vieng… Again

I knew I’d be back. There is just something about Vang Vieng that makes me simultaneously love it and hate it. I hate the cult-like way that all the kids (and I mean anywhere from 18 to 25 here) sit and watch friends during the days. Zoned out to oblivion from whatever “happy” thing they ate or drank. I both love and hate the multitude of free buckets. I hate the way the shirtless, paint covered; shoeless, drunken kids coming back from tubing behave.

I love the chilled out vibe, and I love the view.

The last one always seems to win out. It seriously is the most gorgeous view, and the riverside restaurants are working hard to capitalize on that fact. Low tables made for lounging for hours overlooking the river and with a wide open view that never ceases to take my breath away.

The first time that I was in Vang Vieng, all I wanted to do was sit and stare, breath the air, drink fruit shakes and eat giant chicken baguette sandwiches. This time, however, I decided to take in what the town is known for: tubing down the river.

The tubing itself isn’t the focus, however, drinking while you’re doing it is. Where the tuk-tuk dropped us and our tubes off, there was a bar with quite an enticing offer to get us started. Once we got to the river, we were greeted by a free shot and someone to wrap a bracelet around our wrist.

Even trying to ignore the bars and tube down the river is next to impossible; there are people whose main job is to throw a rope with a weighted water bottle out to you to pull you in. It’s way too easy to get roped in (see what I did there?) to visiting the many bars along the river. Once you abandon your tube and climb the ladder, each bar has a dance floor, a restaurant for food and a little something extra. Whether it’s a rope swing, a high platform, a trapeze, giant slide or inflatable launching pad there is enough to distract you from the goal of getting your tube (and refund) back before six.

Unfortunately we spent too much time at the beginning relaxing by the water and drinking beers to actually visit all of the bars and attractions. Simply floating down the river became impossible and we had to peddle ourselves toward the end, trying not to get raped by rocks as the water became gradually shallower.

Luckily we made it back just in time to get our deposit back, went out for dinner and then made our way down to the bars by the river for our free buckets. It ended up being a dangerous day / night.

The next day, despite hangovers from hell, we went exploring the caves in the area surrounding the town. While we were disappointed with the first, and closer one, the second one we went to had a lagoon in it ready for swimming. However, by the time we got there it was so dark there was no light coming in through the roof of the cave and we were scared of snakes and other critters in the water, so opted out of swimming.

I don’t know if I’ll make that crazy trek into Vang Vieng again, so I’m glad that I was able to experience it twice, in two very different ways and with two very different people.