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Published: November 5th 2009
We were up bright and early to catch a bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. As usual at the bus station we were told everything but the truth from the touts. We eventually found which was the public bus and hit the road at 8am. The journey all the road to Vang Vieng was spectacular. The road side was littered with little villages along the way, all living in very basic accommodation, but with huge satellite dishes and some times flat screen TV’s inside. Dogs lay anywhere on the road, unbothered by the traffic. I can only presume that the lack of cars means that they are more relaxed sprawling across the middle of the road. We were saying on the bus that it would be great to pull into one of the villages and have a look at life there. Also, as we completed the journey it became apparent that it would be amazing to complete it on a motorbike or moped. The roads are so quite and perfect for a cruise through the Laos countryside.
When we arrived in Vang Vieng we asked a tuk tuk driver to bring us to a nice, but cheap guesthouse. He
did bring us to a nice one but it was 80,000kip per night, around €8. We had been paying €3 for very good places so far and none of us were willing to pay much more. We were told we wouldn’t find a place in the town at 30,000 kip until he eventually gave in and brought us to one. It was nice and clean and guess what…. It was €3. I thought they didn’t exist?! We went to an Aussie bar for lunch and that place turned into our feeding ground for the next few days. We had a few drinks that evening and everyone was getting excited about tubing the next day. This involves floating down a river and getting pulled into bars along the way, in a giant tractor tyre tube. There are plenty of swings and slides as well, to keep the crowds busy in-between each bucket.
We got our tubes around 12pm and a tuk tuk took us (sounds like a tongue twister!) a few km’s out of town to where the bars begin. We all had a small can of Beer Lao to get us underway and even though they were giving out
free shots of Laos whiskey, I thought to myself it was just a little too early. Lots of people were using the swings into the river. They were about 15 to 20 metres high and it would swing about 20 to 30 metres out into the river. The current was fast and luckily the river was deep. Some people hit the river like a ton of bricks and others hit it gracefully, doing back flips and somersaults before entering the water. One guy who was afraid to jump, stood holding the swing for ages. After everyone clapped him to jump, he made a complete mess of it and hit the water after no more than three metres.
Soon it was time to Tube. We all got our tractor tyre’s and floated about 50m to the next bar. This is where I first noticed how strong the currents were. It pulled us into where we wanted but another current beside it would sweep you back out. I was pulled back out and trying to swim with a hat in one hand and a flip flop in another is not a good idea. I eventually (after a bit of struggle) got
into the bar. I did a jump off a platform about 15m high. It didn’t look so high but when you get up there it feels a lot higher. I didn’t wait around to long and jumped immediately. Those bungy jumps in New Zealand have brought on a new sense of fear for heights. We moved to the next bar across the other side of the river. They had promised free food if we came over there. The ‘free food’ turned out to be deep fried leaves! You know what, they were actually nice! The day continued down the river until we got to a mud volleyball bar. Michelle had already done a few swings along the way and now it was her turn to mess around in some mud. Most of the people we were with did it but its not my idea of fun. Its certainly fun to watch and everyone looked like they were having fun, it just wasn’t for me. Soon at the last bar we noticed it was getting dark. We still had a big journey down the river. About 40 minutes to be exact. We all rounded up our tubes and just as we
were leaving the song Galway Girl came on. So, here were are 1000’s of miles from home, floating down a river on a tractor tyre, swinging from tree’s into the river and dancing to the most popular modern day Irish folk song, which is only really known in Ireland. A very unique experience! The journey down the river was as much stupid and scary as it was fun and exciting. It was pitch black with only the light of the moon. Every now and again a flash of lightening would light up the sky. We all held on to each others tubes. Eight of us in total. Eventually we saw a flash light in the bushes and the call of “tuk-tuk, tuk-tuk”. We paddled over to the side and soon we were on dry ground. We al had a quick shower and then some food before heading out for the night.
The next day was a day to take it easy. We did venture out that night and some of us came home in the wee hours of the morning, only to regret the next day as we had a huge journey to get to the 4000 island in
the south of Laos. Someone commented that Vang Vieng was like Disney Land for Alcoholics. There was never a truer word said.
In a bit. DH
Song of the blog: I gotta feeling - Black Eyes Pea’s (or however you spell it!)
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