We awoke to find it is the full moon Buddhist festival that happens only once year. Has something to do with this full moon in particular that should bring luck to the villagers. Processions with beating drums and cymbals were heading down the main street with an occasional chant of some sort. Monks were also in a procession from one Wat (temple) to the main one by our guesthouse. We were told we could go, but declined. We wanted to go and see the blue lagoon and cave. We hear it's a spectacular place with a cool cave lagoon and large cave network. Although the Monks and the Festival sounded like a great cultural experience as well.
The Blue Lagoon and Cave
Blue Lagoon and Cave
We headed out to find the Blue Lagoon and Cave. We heard it was after the pay bridge about 7km outside of town. We rode out-of-town and crossed the one lane suspended pay bridge for the other side of the river. 10,000 kip (little over a dollar)We found the main road leading out-of-town which was pot-holed and full of mud-puddles and large rocks. We went for what seemed like an eternity when we came across a split in the road. The sign then pointed to the Blue Lagoon and Cave. We took the right and within about a kilometer or so, we arrived at the gate. Another 10,000 each paid and we rode to the place where the lagoon was and the parking.
We parked the bike and to our surprise, the blue lagoon was not near a cave and it was small. We sat under a cabana near the shores and didn't swim. The sun wasn't out, and although warm, not hot enough to swim. We sat for a while and decided to go across the road to the cave. We made our trek with two "guides" at our side. They were 11 year old boys that I though might be accompanying us due to his apparent fascination with my tattoos.
Our Cave Guides
Flip-Flop Rock Climbing
We began the climb up a steeply rocky incline. There should be a manual or course on flip-flop rock climbing, but neither I nor Shelly have extensive experience in this field. Apparently, the Lao children are experts. We climbed and climbed up the rock face and reached the cave after about 40 minutes of climbing. Sweaty and tired we sat a while before entering the cave and drank some water. We got our flashlights out and our guides brought out their headlamp and windup flashlight and we entered the small opening to the cave. I had to stoop to get in, but once inside it was pretty. Stalactites and stalagmites hung and even though small, we enjoyed it.
We made our way down the hill and had a soda at the bungalow cafe near the lagoon and headed back home. We rode over the river and the rickety bridge we had seen the day before at our favorite riverside café. We had some coffees and some fried spring rolls and relaxed. We went home and I took a long 2 hour nap. It was nice. We don't get many of these along the road.
Speaking of different! Tomorrow, we go on a hot air balloon over Vang Vieng. It's something we both have never done, and for 70.00 dollars each, a bargain! We are excited. We also need to get more laundry done, and find a way we can transport the bikes to Vientiane (the Capital). The road 20km into Vang Vieng was rough and full of potholes and a recent flood destroyed road. We hear the 155km road to Vientiane is the same. We would rather put the bikes on a truck and pay to have them transported. It will take us only 4 hours vs. 1 day and a half on bumpy-bike destroying roads. We also need to get new brakes on Shelly's bike, her rear brakes were screeching at us the last leg or two of the trip thus far.
Change In Perspective
When we got back into town that night, we found out the "Blue Lagoon and Cave" wasn't where we had stopped for the day. They apparently use the fame of the "REAL" blue lagoon and cave which is much larger and more beautiful. This was fine. We didn't mind that it was the wrong place. We enjoyed the day together equally.
However, we might have missed out on the Full Mood Buddhist festival for a fake excursion? We don't see it that way. It really isn't about the bigger or better. Life and travel is about experiences. This is just one more experience, learning to rock climb with local boys in our flip-flops, experiencing culture in a different way, and just exploring. This is no less or more valuable than going to a once a year Buddhist Temple full moon party. Just different.