Vang Vieng, Laos, Asia
I got up this morning and realized it was the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It really is amazing to think that was ten years ago, because I can remember everything about that day in such minute detail. It was also crazy to think how things have changed so much in my life in the last ten years too. In 2001 I was a freshman in college and really had no idea what I wanted to do at all. Ten years later I’m relaxing in Laos in the middle of a round-the-world trip after living in Scotland for six years. Amazing what can happen in such a short amount of time!
Anyway, I went out for breakfast at a place called Central Backpackers and watched a few episodes of Friends. I went back to my guest house to figure out what I’d do for the day and I noticed a brand new sign for Luang Prabang Backpackers, outside of a different building from where I’m staying. Oops! I went in and told the guy that I tried to find that guest house yesterday, but I’m staying at the one next door instead and he said that was fine anyway. He just brought me over there and had me pay the same I was booked for online, so I essentially just got a free upgrade.
I met up with Ben at about 1:30pm to go tubing. It wasn’t something I was really even looking forward to doing, but I’m pretty sure it’s a sin to go to Laos and not go tubing in Vang Vieng. We found the place to rent a tube, paid our money and jumped in the first tuk-tuk that was available. We met an English couple on the ride over and ended up chilling with them for the whole day. Sam and Dave are travelling around for about nine weeks through SE Asia, so we were exchanging tips and stories all day.
We got to the first bar and it was obvious why so many people come tubing. The only surprising thing is that there aren’t more places like this around the world! Beers were about $1.10 or you could get a bucket of whiskey and coke or vodka and coke for about $3.50. Also, they would just give you as many free shots of whiskey as you wanted. These weren’t normal whiskeys though. I tried a few different ones; one had a bunch of bees in it (some were still alive and very drunk so they couldn’t get out), and one had a massive centipede at the bottom. They both tasted a little bit like whiskey, and a little bit gross. They did the trick though; I was feeling the buzz by the time we got to the second bar.
I really wish we had started earlier because it really was so much fun, but since it gets dark at 6pm, we didn’t have that much time to get down the river. The bars were fairly busy (which explains why the town was so quiet) with drunk girls in bikinis dancing, playing volleyball, swinging into the river or playing tug-of-war. It was brilliant! Whenever you got tired of the bar you were at you just had to jump in your tube, float until you saw a bar you wanted to go to and then grab onto the rope they would throw to you in the river. It was a flawless system.
Sam, Dave and I left Ben at the last bar where he was talking to some girl, and we started floating back toward the town. It got dark REALLY quickly so pretty soon the three of us were just floating down the dark river on our own, and there were no lights from the town to be seen. We knew we had to go about 4k to get back, and that took a while. Finally when we saw the town’s lights a couple of six year old kids ran through the river to hitch a ride on our tubes and then try to get us to give them a tip. Of course they never actually helped us at all, but it was a good effort by them. We returned our tubes at about 7:30pm and got our deposit back (minus the 20,000 kip ($6) late fee) and we saw no sign of Ben.
I got back to the guest house, had a quick shower and met up with Sam and Dave outside their hotel. We realized that we’d gotten some pretty serious tube-burn on the inside of our elbows that stings, but besides that we came out unscathed. We found Ben and went to a Family Guy restaurant for dinner. I crushed a Hawaiian pizza really quickly and then felt like I was going to fall asleep right on that couch. I called it a night pretty early and came back to pack up my stuff for the morning. I’m getting up at 6:30am to watch the Cowboys vs Jets game (hopefully) and then getting a bus up to Luang Prabang. It’s going to be a LONG day, so I need my rest.