Kayaking to the Capital
After our horrendous experience ‘ Tubing in the Vang Vieng ’ you would think we learned our lesson with the consequences of mixing drinking with water. But, we didn’t.
We were heading to the big bad capital city Vientiane the next day and heard that instead of taking a bus we could kayak! We went out celebrating our last night in crazy Vang Vieng with a little more than simply alcohol (wink, wink) and were feeling the aftermath in the morning. Rhys and our friend James were feeling pretty close to death. It made the horrendous hangover 25 times worse when we climbed in the back of a death by driver pick-up truck. I am convinced the man driving wanted us dead. The 5 of us in the back were being thrown around like little ping-pong balls in an arcade machine as we weaved through windy roads at three times the speed limit. I did everything I could to not puke all over the truck and everyone in the back. It was a nightmare for me, but for Rhys and James… it was even worse. The picture says it better than I can. They sat swaying like that in silence for 45 minutes as I knocked into them courtesy of our death driver.
As everything in Laid-back Laos, safety means nothing. Which adds to the adventure, but is still pretty stupid. Especially when Rhys and I teamed up in a kayak together to take on the Mekong… yet again. This time we were hung over and exhausted from lack of sleep and too much fun in Vang Vieng. As we approached the first rapids, I frantically asked our guide how to kayak through them. He said, “Just try to stay in the middle.” I couldn’t believe that was his advice! We didn’t know how manoeuver the kayak and I was so tired my paddle was barely grazing the water anyway. Rhys and I never stood a chance. The instant we hit the rapid we were both thrown out, kayak capsized, each of us fighting the Mekong for a breath of air. I managed to kick my way to the top to see the utter shock on our guide’s face. He told us how dangerous the first rapid was, and how important it was to stay in our kayak, but never told us what to do in it. When I saw our guides face I knew it was really bad. I screamed for Rhys, and saw no sign of him anywhere. When I started yelling at everyone else to find him I could see on their faces they didn’t know where he was or what to do. My heart dropped but I was still fighting the rapids and being carried downstream. Still in a frantic, and still screaming, I hit a small fisherman canoe and the group of men managed to pull me out.
I had no kayak, no guides, no Rhys, and no idea what to do. The fisherman stared at this random shaking white girl they found in the river. Neither them nor me knew what to say or do. Thankfully, our group caught up to me soon with a rattled Rhys hanging onto our guide’s kayak. He was stuck underwater in a strong undercurrent for a very long time unable to kick his way to the top. He was starting to see spots by the time he fought his way to the surface. After the past 2 experiences with the damn Mekong River, I was feeling over it and dreading the rest of the river & rapids to come.
Side Note: When we all climbed back into our kayaks ours was noticeable sitting lower in the water then all of the others. The guides told us to get out and turned the kayak upside down so 10 gallons of river water could drain out! Then he grabbed a fallen leaf and stuck it in the big hole at the back of our kayak. I asked, ‘what the hell is that?’ He said it’s the lucky leaf! Translation: We don’t have proper plugs, so we stuff a big leaf in the kayak to keep it afloat! No wonder we capsized.