Tyre Inner-Tubes, Home made whiskey, Swings and the Mekong River!
Vang Vieng is perhaps the most popular location in Laos (at least on the ‘backpackers’ circuit) – due to the activity named ‘Tubing’….
Tubing is one of the most fun, and at the same time, most stupid things i did on my trip.
Essentially, what you are doing is hiring out an inner-tube of a truck tyre, getting a Tuk Tuk (local cab – the word ‘cab’ used in its loosest sense) a few km’s out of the town, and then floating down the Mekong River back to the town where you return your tube.
At some point a few years ago, some local GENIUSES decided to spice things up a little, and created their own hand-made bars (made mainly from Bamboo) on the banks of the river, to quench the thirst of the tubers. But rather than just quenching the thirst, they get you wasted!!! Like, REALLY Wasted!
There are maybe 5/6 bars along the river route. All of the tubers set off at around the same time (usually mid-day) so there is usually 100 – 200 people on the river, or maybe more.
By time you’ve left the first bar, you are usually wasted. A lot of the bars give you free shots of spirits (and in some cases, free joints) with every drink you order.
And if being drunk on a sometimes rough – with – a – lot – of – rocks river wasn’t enough fun, some clever soul decided to make home made swings, zip lines and slides to their bars, in order to compete with the neighboring bars. These structures of fun/doom are awesome/terrifying at the same time (usually depends on how much whiskey you’ve drunk – luckily for me they were always fun/awesome).
On a serious note though – they are Frickin sketchy….i spent 3 days tubing and i saw a girl snap her leg at the bone (from falling over in the mud-volleyball pit), a dude dislocate his shoulder, another dude had the bone of his finger poking out the skin, another dude was bleeding from his ear, and everyone was covered in bruises. A month before we arrived 2 guys had drowned.There is NO health and safety so you do have to be careful. I watched two girls do a huge zip line – and then the handle that they hold on to snapped and they fell about 10 m into the water, just missing some rocks!
But, if you are just a little bit sensible, you should (hopefully) be fine!
If you do go to Vang Vieng (which you have to, if you’re in Laos) there is also some really cool little villages just outside the town (the pics of me and my friends on the mopeds are from that day trip)….Hire out a moped is the only way to see it. We initially went looking for some waterfalls but couldn’t find them and ended up passing through little villages (where we are sure that some of the little kids had never seen white people before – as they were truly terrified of us!). This is where i thought i had to pay 600 USD’s for my bike, as, like an idiot, i drove it through a river and flooded the engine! A local farmer saw what had happened and helped us lift the bike to drain it of water!
Oh…also – this is a nice summary of the craziness of Vang Vieng. On the main road you walk into a restaurant. They give you the food menu like any other restaurant. And then they give you the drug menu. You can have most meals with Weed/Magic Mushrooms/Opium! Or if you want to do-it-yourself, you can just buy a big bag!
If you go, say whatsup to Mr/Mrs Laos for me (From Lao Lao bar, on the river)