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Vang Vien, Coffee, and Waterfalls

I haven't posted in a bit as it's been full throttle since I got to Phonsavan. Big shout out to the Sanders family for putting me up for so many days.
 
Let's retrace about a week and go back to the Vang Vieng portion on our journey towards Luang Prabang and ultimately Phonsavan.
 
We make it despite the best effort of water buffalo, children, dogs, and a swinging engine block. That last part was something out of a video game. We are on a typical Lao road with lots of other motorbikes, pedestrians, and general chaos when we find ourselves behind an enormous tractor. Off the back of the tractor moving at 10km is a large engine block swinging on a chain. No one around us seems disturbed by this and traffic is urging us on so we find ourselves timing the swinging of the engine block in order to make a left side pass.
 
Once in Vang Vieng, we find a lot to like. We get in late and meet up with some euro backpackers, who were interesting enough and knew of a killer Italian guy and his pizza place. Duffy is still dreaming of this pizza. Who knew the middle of Laos would have a pizza place and to boot an Irish pub. It's a bit of the story in general here, lots of enterprising Lao (which I like to see) and some ex-pats from various places that have been in the country for some time. I think they enjoy the remoteness of it all. Don't let this belie the fact that this is still very much a developing country but is quickly catching up; let's hope they avoid many of the mistakes the rest of the world has made.
 
While taking the west loop of Vang Vien I have the best meal of my entire trip still. This is to be found at this ladies house/restaurant and eaten next to her husband and daughter on a matt watching some local drama. It looks similar to meals I have since but nothing compares, it took her a bit to make and I was quite happy to wait.
The rest of the day is spent chasing waterfalls, more caves, and nice vistas. No waterfalls today but lots of vistas and caves. Also managed to find a natural spring amidst the rice paddies that the local villagers, with the help of Lao tourism, have set up entirely for tourists. It was weird to witness but manages a balance of natural and commercial.
Well, that brings us up to the 11th of January. The next day we get to the hardest riding of the trip. I will try and post more frequently.
 
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