Vang ViengVang Vieng has struggled with its reputation as a backpackers party paradise, where booze, "magic" shakes and a rocky river have made for a deadly mix. In 2011, more than 27 tourists died here. Yes, here. That's where we are right now. Party central with a 2 year old.
But very recently things have changed here. The government closed all of the bars that had cropped up along the popular tubing route, where drugs and booze had been such a deadly mix. The government is desperately trying to get this little town in a gorgeous setting under control. It now has plans to build a wide promenade along the scenic Nam Song river.
In our 2 days there we took advantage of the beautiful landscape and went tubing down the river and visited the blue lagoon. Tubing took about 2 hours and was sooo much fun for Simon. When the river wasn't moving too fast, he was swimming between our tubes and just swimming around. We chose not to bring the camera on that excursion - so no pics! At the blue lagoon we climbed up to see the caves just above. If someone has warned us we would not have brought Simon. He was on my back and it was a very steep climb. As we started our descent, Simon was clinging to my back saying, "careful Mama." And I was, and we were fine. At the lagoon he loved watching his parents jump or swim into the water, where he was of course waiting.
VientianeVientiane, the capital of Laos, sits directly on the banks of the mighty Mekong, with Thailand just on the other side. When we first arrived, it was hot and the city felt a bit grimy. But once the sun went down and a pleasant evening breeze blew in, we enjoyed strolling through the night market and eating at one of the street vendors. Simon managed to get an entire meal from a group of Thai tourists sitting next to us, who kept giving him food very time he walked up to them. This included his own small basket of sticky rice, grilled pork, grilled shrimp, and salted fish. Everyone was happy.
|Simon's basket of sticky rice.|
|We took a morning trip out to Buddha Park, where Simon was able to run around freely.|
|Protecting our heads.|
The next day was all about Simon. We had found a playground....a playground. Our first in nearly a month! Simon was so excited, and he had it all to himself.
Not only a bouncy house, but some rides too!
The next day brought very, very exciting news. Just 15 days after her due date, Simon's new cousin made her debut in Sacramento, California. Weighing in at 8 lbs, 5 oz, Sakhile (sah-KEY-lay) Neva Mazwi was born. Could she be any more beautiful?? Marie, Khiza, and Sakhile are all very happy and healthy. Times like this make me feel very, very, very far away from my family.