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Published: March 11th 2006
is kind of a dump.
Vang Vieng is a strange little town. I was planning on avoiding it entirely, but a stopover here breaks up the Vientiane- Luang Prabang bus ride (9 hours of whipping around hairpin turns through the mountains of north Laos) quite nicely.
I knew I would hate Vang Vieng before I got here. Its one of those places, you either love it or hate it. I tried to keep an open mind- why did I have to act like an old man all the time? I could have fun with my peers. My dreadlocked, unshowered, Che Guevara shirt wearing, pseudo-intellectual hippie peers...
I really don't hate Vang Vieng. It just makes me sad. A couple of years ago this town didn't have electricity, these days as you walk down the main street in town you pass by a dozen cafes each blaring a different episode of Friends
. Of all television shows in the history of television they pick Friends
In addition to the regular menu featuring mediocre interpretations of Western food, most of the cafes in Vang Vieng have a "special" menu featuring happy pizza, happy shakes, happy omelette, opium tea, etc.
The favorite activity in Vang Vieng
too bad its at such a nice location
is indulging in some happy pizza and chasing it down with a happy shake before tubing down the river for a couple of hours. The scenery is beautiful with the mountains and the jungle, but you get a bit distracted by the many riverside bars blasting- you guessed it- Bob Marley. Its just that predictable.
Vang Vieng isn't all bad. There's an organic cafe selling mulberry shakes that are better than the best Jamba Juice you've ever had and cost 60 cents. Some of the TV cafes screen episodes of The Simpsons
instead of Friends
. I haven't seen an episode of The Simpsons
in almost two months, which is as long as I've been Simpsons-less since 1991. I admit it, I patronized the evil TV bars of Vang Vieng.
For some people this is "traveling".
Turn on, tune in, and drop out.
If only they'd show South Park
- "They're not people, they're hippies!"
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