At the Riverside with a Bucket and Tube
Trip Start Jun 27, 2011
106Trip End Jun 22, 2012
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We took a bus ride out of Luang Prabang heading southeast towards the premier backpacker destination of Laos, Vang Vieng. It was also a place that I visited before and the chances are that anyone reading this blog who has been on a trip round southeast asia will also have been there.
The town initially became famous due to the fantastic surrounding scenery. It is set on a river which flows through stunning natural limestone karsts.
Now it is famous for being able to view this amazing scenery from the inner tube of a tractor tyre whilst floating down the river
Our first evening we watched the tubers returning, all lookied like they had had a great time and some were in a sorry state already even though the sun was just setting. Vang Vieng has upped its pace and the river sent back some backpackers who were semi dressed (some barely able to stand) covered in writing advertising different bars on the river, bands to get free buckets, mud and cuts and we found out that there are now 5 bars in the first 100m of the 6km float back to town! I'm not sure this is a good thing as the combination of free spirits and diving into a river is not a sensible one and we heard that the day before we arrived a backpacker had died on the river and in 2011 the activity had claimed nearly 20 travellers lives.
As the weather was a bit cloudy and cold (sorry if your reading this back home in the UK winter) we spent a couple of days relaxing in the many bars and resturants for which the town is also known
On the second evening we went to dinner with Yuri and later on ended up in the only late night bar, bucket bar, which gives out free buckets from 9- 9:30 to help the still active tubers keep going into the early hours, complete with fire limbo. We shared a bucket and Amy went on to have 4 over the course of the evening. She would have been bouncing off the ceiling if there was one. We also bumped into Ricky and Bobby the Essex brothers we met in Luang Probang who (not surprisingly) were also slightly the worse for wear.
The next day as the weather didn't look like it was going to clear and we had been in town for a few days and we would soon have to drag ourselves away from Family Guy and Friends we decided to go tubing. It was cloudy and a bit cold but we managed to drag Yuri and Sander with us although none of us felt our best from the night before. We arrived and had bands tied to our wrists 'for luck' and to thumping music from all competing bars at the start and were encouraged to have a drink in the first bar which we did and watched the party
We reluctantly got on our tubes into the cold water and headed down stream to be pulled into the next bar on the other side where we got more wrist bands for free buckets (local spirits and red bull etc like in Khao san) and had another drink and watched people zip line into the river. It was all a bit much for our hang overs so we tubed down further and stoped at slide bar, yes you guessed it, with a big slide into the water. It also had a big fire which we were more drawn to! In usual Lao jobs for the kids style, the dj was a 12 year old boy. From there we headed down again and got out at a bar run by some English guys and got a tuk tuk back to town.
We had another evening of Friends, followed by bucket bar and more fire limbo dancing and jumping, which was too much for one particular guy. Luckily the only injuries were minor burns and a heavily brused ego.
We woke up to clear blue skies and were pleased to be able to stick to our plan of tubing the whole river in the sunshine
For all its faults, Vang Vieng is definitely one of the most fun places to visit as a backpacker, although we were ready to leave after five nights. Next stop is the capital city, Vientianne.