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- Laos town known for drunkenness and tourist deaths cleans up its act | Travel | The Guardian.
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But the surrounding countryside is spectacular. The Nam Song Envelope river streams past sheer, lushly carpeted limestone mountains, their needle-sharp peaks pricking the sky. At sunset, the long karstic silhouettes take on an ethereal, mystical air, fading from a vibrant palette of greens to a dreamy watercolour grey. A sweaty descent down a track took us to the Blue Lagoon, a natural pool of baby-blue water where we splashed about before heading for a papaya salad at the waterside restaurant of the SAE , a community project set up by Sengkeo Frichitthavong, a Vang Vieng native.
Laos town known for drunkenness and tourist deaths cleans up its act
Frichitthavong, who spent 12 years as a refugee in Canada, set up the project in when he was shocked at discovering what Vang Vieng had become. Today, along with other villagers, SAE has launched a soap-making project and a solar heater project, and is building bamboo and mud homes for long-term volunteers.
The restaurant funds English lessons for some Lao and Hmong students at the onsite school. Friendly owner Nouth opened her six bungalows in It is reached by a winding wooden walkway and set against a canvas of beautiful mountain views.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Another positive initiative is the Vang Vieng Challenge. Our 5,metre trek up a jungle mountain wall was accompanied by cicadas — their frenzied cacophony fading the higher we climbed — and dozens of butterflies flecked in amethyst, periwinkle, canary yellow and zebra stripes. We passed elephant grass, cardamom, dangling lianas and banana trees before continuing our ascent on a via ferrata, the bolts lodged into black boulders that bulged and racked up in jumbled stacks alongside the Nam Theam waterfall.
On arrival at the wooden hut where we were to spend the night, we bounded across to the pools of the waterfall — where spumes of snow-white water poured over the jet black rock — and into the welcoming mountain-cold pool.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic | International Organization for Migration
Back at base, we snacked on wild mangoes with chilli sauce, strips of deep-fried buffalo skin and sun-dried pork while watching a hot-air balloon sail over the peaks as the sun set. The following morning we climbed the waterfall before rappelling 50 metres down the ebony bulges, sprayed by cascading waters. The thrill continued as we ziplined and abseiled down through a bamboo and banyan forest and waterfall chasms almost to the bottom of the valley. As dusk fell, children gathered to enjoy a dip in the river, and locals drove their vehicles into the shallows for a quick, free car wash.
After two days of quite challenging activities, it was time to take it easy with a new-style sober tubing trip along the Nam Song river.