Published: August 19th 2012August 19th 2012
So we had to be up early again for yet another bus! This time we had booked a mini bus to get us to Vang Vieng, which was due to pick us up from the hotel, we tried to ask the right questions, it will take 4 hours, seat 10 people etc. Sounds simple hey? Well remember this is asia! We were picked up on time in the tanking rain, by a Tuk Tuk not a bus. This Tuk Tuk the went around and picked up 10 people...quite a squash with all the bags as well. We were then taken out to a bus station, where lots of mini buses and more people were present. Left standing about with no instruction until about 10.15 (it was supposed to leave at 10) then put in a minibus, one in the front and one on a rubbish fold out seat in the back, lugage on the roof. 10 minutes later...told to get out of mnibus so someone else could have our seats, and we were put in another one. Half an hour later we finally left! The journey was a bit crazy. Part of the difficulties associated with Laos' rapid development is that
the infrastructure is not there! The "main highway" from Luang Prabang to the capital, Vientianne (Via Vang Vieng!) is a dirt track winding up and down mountains. At any time you can be halted by landslides on the road. We had a delightful 6hour journey in our minibus with 13 people (see doesn't matter how hard you try to ask the right questions...people jus lie!) on a foggy rain soaked road, where visability was about 5 meters ahead. Whilst our driver hung his head out the window to constantly spit out the window, whilst overtaking a lorry on a blind corner with a cliff edge to the left and a vertical mountainside to the right! we stopped twice so the driver could have his free food. on both occasions in places where we had to pay to use a squat toilet!
Vang Vieng is a strange little place which as expanded only because of the huge amounts of western tourists that have decended on the place. The main attraction is tubing. For those who don't know this involves riding down the river in a big tractor tyre inner tube, taking in the view and then being pulled into bars
along the side of a river by staff throwing out ropes. It can be very dangerous amd people die on a near monthly basis, however this seems to be because they drink lots of shots and buckets of vodka and jump of rope swings into rocky water. The other thing about Vang Vieng is the area is stunningly beautiful, all mountains and jungle, and a ride down the river sounded like a great way to spend the day. And it seems that we couldn't go to laos without going tubing! So we had planned to head down early afternoon, stop for one or two beers and then just enjoy the ride and do our drinking when we got back to town.
When we arrived in Vang Vieng...it was raining. We had some dinner and a few drinks and a not to late night. The village itself is so strange. someone see,s to have decided that what tourists want is battered sofa beds and TV's showing friends and family guy on DVD. So that is what happens everywhere. Apparently people lose weeks here, and to be honest, I can see how you could slip into the comfort of things from
home you didn't even know you missed. But it is not Laos!
Our guesthouse had a fantastic view out over the river and mountains. This also meant we could see the ongoing rain and quite how fast the river was going. The next day when we got up..it was still raining. We had only planned 2 nights in Vang Vieng, so this was tubing day. The rain never stopped! We finally used our heads and conceded that for us tubing was not happening, it was too dangerous! So we decided to take a Tuk Tuk to the bars and join in the drinking part instead. This part was fun. but w can more than ever see why people get injured or die doing this! The drinks are free flowing with british PR girls trying to pour Wiskey straight in your mouh for free.
We did get highly muddy walking between bars, but we had fun and met some nice people, all of whom were bainling out of their tubing after 5 bars as it was too fast and scary. The only people we saw plough right thougn was a group of men in their 50's who were having
a great time! It was quite funny watching the bar staff "fishing" for customers with long lines with bottles on the end.
Later that night in the Bucket bar - a bar that seemed to be designed to look as hedonistic as possible. Dark bar, flaming limbo pole and a little laos guy with a water gun full of whiskey. This couple we met told us they had seen Neil from the Inbetweeners in the first bar we had all been in! that just about sums it up, the Inbetweeners in Vang Vieng!
Not many pictures here i am afraid, nothing to do and too wet to risk the camera!!
We were a bit gutted not to have done the infamous tubing, but we survived with no injuries....so that seems a better outcome!