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Published: June 18th 2012
Mekong river in the background, I managed to get landed cycling the pretty pink number in the middle
We arrive after an epic 37 hour journey into Luang Prabang. This is one of the largest cities in Loas, but a population of around 50,000 puts it on a par with Stroud, as most of the 6.5 million population is comprised of small hill tribes. We rented bicycles for the day to explore what is a very quiet and relaxed place, and in the evening we crossed the Mekong river on a rackety bamboo bridge leading to an awesome little riverside view bar. Luang Prabang has an 11pm curfew on serving of alcohol, so after this time you have to get a tuk-tuk 3km outside of town to a bowling alley. We found the notion intriguing so had to check it out, we expected it to be a "bowling alley" and at least have some sort of club vibe too, ie a dance floor or some music, but no, it was a bowling alley! Very strange but I hit a ton so happy enough.
Then there was elephants. One of the best days of the trip, we got around 4 hours with the elephants, to trek in the jungle, wash them in the river, feed them (they wolf down
The first riverside bar with very competitive games of beer pong. On this day I was also sporting a pair of shades with a built in visor, but lost them to the river
150kg of food and drink 150 litres of water daily), and jump off their heads into the river. The elephant sanctuary has saved these elephants from the vast Laos logging trade, to have a much easier time carrying tourists around.
After Luang Prabang we headed with hesitance to the infamous Vang Vieng. This is the boom town of tubing, where 27 tourists die every year and many more get seriously hurt. You'll be pleased to know we all escaped relatively unharmed. Turns out the people that die ignore blatent warning signs or jump in where there are clearly visible rocks or overdose on crystal meth, and I'm sure it will shock none of you to hear that 80% are Australian. It was however a fully retarded concept as a tourist attraction. Get a tuk-tuk 2km upriver at about 2 pm and drink extremely cheap buckets in bars by the river. Float downstream to the next bar. At 6 pm you get back to town. Grab some food whilst watching south park. Head to more bars on an island, where you get free buckets for an hour. Sleep. Wake up and watch friends in the hotel bar. Repeat ad infinitum.
View from the second bar with the 3rd across the water
Or at least we did that for 5 days. It's terrible alcohol in those buckets so probably the worse hangover I've ever had! (you know its bad when you're struggling 3 days later).
Jeppy stayed a couple more days in Laos to help out at one of the riverbars that were short of staff, esentially meaning he had a completely free two days. Me and Alex headed down to the capital Vientiane, a recovery detox which included a massage and good food. The city itself is of little note, though they are in the early processes of building a massive CBD/tourist/accommodation hub, which might be interesting to see in 10 years or so.
And that ends our Laos experience. If you're interested this is a good article on what Vang Vieng is and what it was meant to be: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/07/vang-vieng-laos-party-town
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