Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Oh La-LAO Part 2
STOP 2-VANG VIENG "I'm just going to throw my tube and crawl:"
We hopped on a bus to Vang Vieng. When most people go to Lao, that's what they think of. the crazy, hippy, party tubing town. I was skeptical going in to this leg of the trip. Those of you who know me, know I'm not a huge partier, I hardly drink and I thought I would hate it there. While I am not going to blog that my experience in vang Vieng was utterly different than most people's, I will say that it's very different than I expected. To accurately describe Vang Vieng is impossible, it is something that needs to be seen and lived for itself but I will try: it's beautiful. A town nestled between huge green gorgeous mountains. the Mekong flows in the middle of the mountains and that's where the action is. Someone, somewhere decided to turned this scenic quiet town into party central. Along the river are shack bars that are complete with cheap (or free) buckets of drinks, some kind of greasy food (French fries), some offer massive swings into the water or slides, and to get the tubers off from the lake, little Lao children throw ropes with plastic bottles at the end of them at you and drag you in. The whole time I kept thinking what a corrupt and terrible view these people must have of Westerners.
The thing that most people don't realize though, is that the drinking partying madness is only for the first 1/3 of the river. most people get too incapacitated to make it down the whole river, but I assure you it's well worth it. The bars disappear, there is not a building in sight, just breathtaking nature. I was fortunate to see over 20 sunsets in one night, as the sun kept disappearing a peak and as we floated along it would appear again. We made it down the river once out of our three days. (Day 2: we only got one tube. Chip was supposed to swim put ended up taking up half of my tube, my sunglasses got lost to the river, and I fell off the tube, hit my head and thought I had a concussion so had to be dragged off the river and thrown in a tuk tuk...turns out I was just being dramatic. whoops) (day 3: no tubes: we just walked the river, got a ride back to the top of the river from Phaeng and hitchhiked back to town)
We did however, befriend an owner of a bar (SLINGSHOT BAR if any of you are going to VV) and he was amazing. He took Chip hiking (I opted to sleep in) and gave us boat rides up the river and in return we made Slingshots THE place to be. It was nice though, to befriend a local and not just engage in debauchery.
Most of the land bars offer ridiculous specials like FREE BUCKETS from 8:30-9:30. The first night was my night to be guided home. the second night was Chips. And the third and fourth we were both tired and kind over it. There was one night however that Chip fell on me and I fell over the balcony and onto the SLANTED roof and when he tried to catch me he toppled onto the roof too and all of the Lao people came out and stared at us. I think we got two more buckets after that.
The fact of the matter is, that we did go get the free buckets and partied a bit, but most nights we were home around 10PM, sitting on the balcony of our guesthouse playing cards. I won 90% of the time. HA! Most people in VV are in their early early 20s and at 26 and 28, we felt old and that we were past this stage in our lives. We were more than ready to leave after four days.