Tubing and Climbing in Vang Vieng

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February 15th 2010
Published: February 14th 2010
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The road to Vang Vieng consisted of mainly cliffside roads with no railings of any kind, in an over packed minibus with completely bald tires. I tried sleeping on the way and my head kept banging into the window cuz of the bumpy road, probably resulting in a concussion and mild brain damage. In any case upon arriving I went to the spicylaos hostel (yeah they have another one in this town) and settled in. The dorm was really neat, kinda of like we're all in a treehouse. This is one of the better hostels I've stayed in so far. I then walked around the town, which wasn't very big, and quickly familiarized myself with the place.

Vang Vieng is a quite fabled place, surrounded by high limestone mountains, that many backpackers flock to for the copious, cheap, and excessive boozing. The main thing to do here is Tubing on the river during the day, although it's hard to spot any real tubing going on. There are bars all going down the river but most people only really frequent the first three. My first day there I didn't even get a tube and floated down the river to those said bars where much alcohol and debauchery took place. I drank quite substantially on this day with random people from the hostel, we zip-lined and jumped off platforms into the river, not the best idea when intoxicated. Chicks were flashing everyone and everyone wrote hilarious and crude things on each other with markers. Tourists seemed to run the bars as well, seems like they want english speakers at the bar so they'll offer some tourists a free room and alcohol. Some get stuck here and never leave. By dusk everyone is generally hammered and head back to the town by tuk-tuk and chill out and/or eat something, and then storm back to do it all over again at the bars in town.

I did get a tube the next time and just floated down the river and chatted to other tubers heading down with me. Bars would throw rope attached with a bottle to us to try and reel us in. It took me about two and a half hours to get back to town from the start, the river was shallow though and I hit rocks at some parts. I developed a cool hand rowing tecnique though that sped me up considerably.

I also visited a clear lagoon and cave one day on a rented motorbike, me and someone else from the hostel initial went the wrong way with our bikes and ended up at the gates of some military base. The guards ran up to us with guns pointed, motioning for us to leave. We did. The cave was cool, alright size and I went in alone with my flashlight. Should have worn shoes rather than sandals though...

The bars at night were more of the same thing as I mentioned, I ran into Jade again at one of them, I was in the unisex bathroom peeing when I heard my name being called behind me. I went out on a few of the nights but kind of got tired of the whole thing fast. This is really not my scene whatsoever.

I did rock-climbing for a few hours on my last day. My instructor was named Apple (?) or that's what I understood in any case. It'd been a while since I climbed, mostly indoor stuff, but I knew I wouldn't have any problems. We started up by learning knots and leading and belaying. After this I did a couple of good routes, some with overhangs creating quite a challenge and getting the whole body involved. This is a great form of exercise and I think I'll get into this more in the future. The limestone cliffs here make it even more fun as they're great for climbing with lots of handholds.

One of the evenings I went to a local temple and talked English with some of the younger monks. I was surprised that some had a good command of the language. Sadly I didn't stay long as they were prepping for a festival while I was there.

Somewhere in there were more afternoons of "tubing" and random stuff. I was here for a full week, part of me got a little too comfortable and I can see how certain people can get stuck and be here for a while. That said it's good to be on the move again.

Additional photos below
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At the BarAt the Bar
At the Bar

Ran into Jade again...

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