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Vang Vieng and Onwards

September 4th, 2009

Vang Vieng is a small town located 164km north of Vientianne. The village is on a bend in the Song River and is set against a backdrop of picturesque limestone mountains. All in all it’s a small place but provides access to a variety of activities including caving, rock climbing, kayaking, cycling etc.

For us (and many other 20 something backpackers) Vang Vieng is all about tubing. Tubing is basically the art of sitting in an old tractor inner tube and floating down the river. Only difference here is that the river is lined with bars, rope swings, rope slides and slides. It’s carnage. It’s also no longer recommended by Gap (really not recommended at all.) I guess that someone had a serious accident, sued Gap and they no longer want people doing it. Regardless, everyone signed the disclaimer and off we went to the drop off point. On arriving we realised that you needed to get the tubes in town and then bring them with you. So, having already had several free shots of whisky the girls headed off to get tubes and the boys, donning their silk taylor made pyjamasSilk Pyjamas relaxed by the riverside. Amusingly, or scarily (depending on how you look at it), we were informed that the week before the bar had been much bigger but a flash flood had washed much of it away. It was at this first bar that we really appreciated what it was all about. Just to the left of the bar a series of ladders took you up to a small promenade where you could grab a rope and swing out in to the river before dropping from ~40 feet, I guess. It all looked like great fun until we saw one girl slip and go head first in to the water, coming to the service but head still in the water looking unconcious. A Laos guy dived in and, very quickly, recovered her and that’s when it hit home. Anyway, Steve and Harry were the first to have a go before I told Rav that we obviously had no choice and that we’d have to follow suit. I hit the water like a lead brick, slightly sideways essentially crushing my left lung. I’m fairly certain I bruised a rib or two as the following days were not good for me. The general idea with the tubing was that everybody basically stayed at the same bars and then, en masse, migrated to the next bar. As a result there was a tendency for people to miss their intended bar as, due to the strong current, it was necessary for the Laos people to throw ropes to catch people and, too often, there were too many people and not enought ropes. This happened to Em, me and Tiina between bar 2 and 3 resulting in one hell of a trek down river to cross a bridge and then come back up.

Bar 2 was hilarious in that everyone was starting to feel a little tipsy (some considerably more than others) and it was at this (early) point that Ravi threw up all over his hands on the dance floor. He claims that it was the result of trying to drink from his bucket using four straws but I’m not so sure! Anyway, the rest of the tubing passed by with more drink, mud baths and various other shenanigans. We finished off around 8pm by taking a tuk tuk back to town. By this point everyone was well and truly battered and a mix up with the tubing guy led to punches being thrown and Steve being held back by Claire. A damn good job really as I’m not sure the tubing guy knew what he was getting himself in to.

That morning we headed on to Luang Phabang. At this point I have to say that Laos is probably one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to. The landscapes are stunning, filled with mountains and rain forest: truly spectacular.

Author: Mark Jerzykowski Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
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