I have learnt a few things over the past few days. Laos PDR means 'please don't rush' and is a pretty typical sort of saying for this country - it is so laid back I can feel my blood pressure and heart rate decreasing even more than it is usually (never been particularly high)!!
In Phonsavan I hired a scooter and never without my adventures and disaster-prone streak, took it for a ride early morning out to see the 3 main plain of jars sights. they are incredible, and very intriguing to say the least so I definitely recommend visiting them. But very little else to do in the area and you can easily cover the jars in a few hours.
Anyway. So I had my scooter and I had successfully located jar sites 1 and 2 when i started having engine trouble, the scooter died and refused to restart. uh oh! This one was an electric start (but had a manual override which still failed). I had no idea what was wrong with it, it just would not start. And as far as I was aware it still had (according to the petrol gauge) half a tank of fuel. So, I pushed the bike up hills and then neutral rode it down hills for probably 3km until i reached the next village town. I was passed by a few times on the way by people on scooters, but no one stopped to my rescue :(. So I managed to push it to a scooter repairer who had a bit of a look around ( no english spoken here) and then it ended out that the bike had no fuel! arghh.. So I pushed it the next 50m to the petrol station, filled the bike up where i learnt that in actual fact, half full means empty, full means half full, and way above full is actually full. So moral of the story is don't trust any of the gauges on these machines in asia!
While I was in Phonsavan, I met a lovely young man at the MAG office (which i mentioned last time) who was working on his English skills in preparation for the English test as he wants to go and study in Australia. Apparently there are quite a few Laos students in Brisbane and Perth studying. I also was invited to go to a Laos edding, but this was after I had already purchased my ticket to leave Phonsavan and I would have gone crazy with nothing to do for another day (as it had only taken half a day to explore all the sights on offer).
Grr I'm currently having camera issues. If anyone knows how to change a memory card off 'write protect' via a computer I'd be much obliged (No, it doesn't have a sliding thing on the card itself).
Now I am in Vang Vieng. Caught a mini-bus yesterday from Phonsavan here and as we arrived with plenty of time and lots of sunshine and warmth a couple of us decided to hit the river and the 'tubes' although we by-passed the actual tube part and just swam along the river to make the most of the high swings and fire-foxes that propel you into the water. I made the mistake on the fire-fox to hold on for a bit too long and as i wasn't prepared to do a backflip, ended up back flopping with a massive back slap and red back.
This however was later enhanced by some lovely red spray-paint of a 'kangaroo' (looked nothing like). Its amazing how much mischief I can get up to when I have water, swings, slides, big jumps, spray paint, water guns at my disposal!!. ;)
Today I joined a group and went caving and kayaking. First we took a tuk-tuk to the water cave where we jumped on inner tubes and into the cave we went, a few kilometres in there I think. Awesome experience. At first we were pulling ourselves along a rope, and then further in we all joined ina big convoy of tubes and arm-paddled our way up this massive tunnel inside the middle of the mountain until we arrived at the end. At this point we turned off our lamps (I'll get to them in a sec)to listen in silence to the drips of water falling off stalactyles (or is it stalacmytes??). Beautiful. Anyway, you wont' believe what our head lamps were - highest technology Laos style. They were, no joke, small battery packs (like the ones you put in a car) attached to basically a light globe with a head band to put on your head! Dead serious! To turn them on/off you just twisted the globe. :)
Then we kayaked down the river - about 10km I think, stopping along the way at the swings for about an hour of fun before cruising the rest of the way back into Vang Vieng town.