Since my plans for heading north for hiking (still wrestling the shoes) and kayaking (too fecking cold) were put aside I decided the next option was to head south towards Cambodia and see what happened on the way. (This seems to be my plan a lot of the time. I will eventually need to get more organised or I’m going to run out of time).
A brief stay in the capital city of Vientiane meant I had time to visit the insanity that is the Buddha park (really annoyingly, the local bus that says it goes here does not in fact go all the way to the park. It stops at the Thai border and you then need to get a tuktuk down the road for three times the price of the bus. Dang it). The Buddha park is a collection of about 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues of varying degrees of weirdness.
The main event is a huge ball, which you can enter by crawling through the mouth of what I assume is a demon? The inside is full of statues depicting hell, earth and heaven on three layers connected by extremely uneven spiral staircases (which are not very fun to climb in a long skirt, just in case you were planning it) at the top you can crawl out of the bottom of the tree for a view of the whole park.
And this was all I did in Vientiane.
No, that’s a lie. I also checked TripAdvisor for the best restaurants and ending up having a bacon and blue cheese burger at Ray’s that was so insanely good that I was still catching myself making little moaning noises on my walk back to the hotel.
After Vientiane I hoped on a bus direct to Kong Lor, a national park in the middle of the country with a popular cave to visit. Despite being popular with the tourists it’s still a really quiet place with only a couple of hotels and restaurants and nothing else for miles around, except for kids (really quite rhythmically talented kids) playing with homemade drum kits. I ended up sharing a room with Kirsten, who I met on the bus on the way down and I think we paid about £2 per night.
The cave has a river running through it so the tour is mostly by boat, with a little bit of scrambling up onto the rocks to have a look at stalactites. I wore my trainers because I wasn’t sure if my sandals were good enough for scrambling (they would have been, it really wasn’t much), and I got very very wet. On the plus side, it may have helped with breaking in the demon shoes. Hurrah!