Tubing like there's no tomorrow
Trip Start Mar 27, 2012
34Trip End Ongoing
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What I did
Watching Friends on Loop
Blue Lagoon Cave
It's time for a visit to Vang Vieng, a village with an awesome backdrop, a river and a lot of drinking. It's between Luang Prabang and Vientiane, so well on the backpacker trail.
But let's first talk about the journey getting here.
Laos roads are known for their shoddiness. Potholes aplenty, they are a minefield of accidents that have already have happened, and are waiting to happen. Naturally, we jump straight into a mini van where we witness the aftermath of a mammoth crash twenty minutes in. No worries, our driver is (hopefully) careful
The next six or seven hours are spent on the small windy hills of northern Laos. Everyone holds on for dear life. To top it off, the roads rocky, and that makes for an uncomfortable ride. On the plus side, the scenery is like something out of a Lord of the Rings, apart from the fact that we're nowhere near New Zealand.
We're glad to be alive when we reach the village, and isn't it just quiet. That's not because it's sleepy little Laos. Later we would find that this place is more Malia, with a little extra greenery. The first night was spent eating some nice food and hiding from the thunderstorms, which unfortunately hit a building 5 metres away from us. Yikes.
Next day and it's time for tubing. To start off, it's expensive and it's a little bit of a scam. They say return your tube in good nick before 6am. When you get to the first river bar, you realize it's not going to happen. As you enter, you leave your tube in a big pile already there and are given a complimentary shot of Laos whiskey; it slaps your taste buds and stomach around, but it's bearable, and you're given a wristband for you're bravery. The drink is split into two choices:
2. The Whiskey Bucket - That's for the serious drinking - and it's the only drink that won't get warm straight away from the heat. This is cheaper than water, so they fill the buckets to the brim with the stuff and add in a Red bull equivalent which is illegal in the west because of its power.
The idea is to move with the crowd onto each bar down stream. You can get to each by swimming, but we obviously had the tubes, which are a bit of a liability. To get down the whole river takes around 2 hours, which you're not going to do before six, so you'll lose your deposit. We tried and failed by about 20 minutes. It should be pointed out that due to it being low season, there's not a lot of bars open but you still will end up staying at the bars getting very very drunk. It's worth doing the tubing for memories sake, but only once. The next time we went to the bars, we just swam, and it was much more enjoyable.
All in all, that side of the village really isn't Laos per-se. Rather Malia or Ibiza but on a river, and in South East Asia. That's not necessarily a bad thing for a few days, but talking to a lot of people there, you get the impression that's all they've come out here for, and the people who work there are stuck in limbo
To contrast, the area around Vang Vieng has some lovely areas to explore such as the caves at the Blue Lagoon. We took a day's escape from the madness to walk around a vast cave and have a dip in the nice lake. It's good to have a variety of things to do if you can, especially in an intense place like here.
So, how to describe it? It's really what you want to get out of the place. If drinking is your thing, then have a blast, but be careful around those happy shakes and the water. If you're looking for a wander into adventure then there is plenty of that too, just don't hit you're head on a rock.
We tried to find a little bit of both, and watched a lot of friends in the meantime. Needless to say, it was ruddy good.