Tubing or not tubing?
The dusty town of Vang Vieng is a major stop on travellers itineraries, due to its beautiful karst mountains for many, and its backpacker hangout atmosphere for others. The site is also famous for its many caves some of which served as shelter during the vietnam war bombings.
Vang Vieng is by no means a typical Lao village: the town center abounds in TV restaurants and bars showing re-runs of Friends or the Simpsons, and the most popular activity is tubing, i.e. floating down the river in inflated tractors inner tubes, while stopping to refresh at the many riverside bars. It sounds strange, well it is. Though getting drunk on the river and having "happy whatever you wanna" can be good fun, as we are an old and grumpy couple, well over our 30's, we didn't feel like staying for long here (I can get drunk at home, no need to go to Laos for that!).
To visit the area, we decided to take a two days trek + kayaking trip. It was a good idea, and we spent some interesting time on the steep slopes of Vang Vieng's hills, visiting a couple of caves on the way, and paddling between slow tubers. The river was quite low at this time of year so some tubers took all day to go down the few kilometers of the tubing route.
Most of the riverside bars had tons of beerlao, and a swing over the river. They are scarily high, and make
a good show for the tubers during their pit stop. Patrick was courageous enough to try the swing (see one of his jump in the attached movie), and Saoyuth cowardly voluntered to take the photos! We bump into Quentin (met in Myanmar)
After the trek we were undecided whether to visit Ventiane, the capital, or not. Many fellow travellers told us we wouldn't miss much so we decided to head up north straight away. The next morning after our trek we took the bus to Luang Prabang where we would catch another bus to Luang Namtha in the far north the next day. In Luang Prabang we bumped into Quentin whom we met in Myanmar, that was lucky!