Vang Vieng, Laos
October 30, 2013 – November 2, 2012
I hate buses. I need Gravol. I take a Gravol. I still hate buses.
KT: The bus ride from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng is notoriously bumpy and windy. It got to Lou…
We ended up in Vang Vieng and found a bungalow on the other side of the river. After walking across a bridge we were told that it was just built today, which is good because it sure beats waiting.
Walking into town we found a pizza joint. Once inside we were greeted by a tweaking Aussie meth-head who was either a) owner b) manager c) an employee d) none of the above.
“What’s going on mates?” he says without giving us time to respond “sorry it’s a mess around here we’re just trying to get things in order. Grab a seat! There. Ya there’s good.
Let me grab you a couple of menu’s. We make the dough fresh every morning. We’ve also got a wood oven. All the pizzas are good. If you want, we can make them Happy for you,
but scratch that menu and I can grab you another one. Or if you want we sell bags of weed. I sell ‘em in 100,000 kip bags the size of…” he motions his two hands like eating a small hamburger “…and we also sell them pre-rolled for 30,000 kip each. You can smoke upstairs, it’s a safe haven. I wouldn’t smoke on the streets though or in your bungalows.. But ya check out the menu and get back to me,” he says all this while running behind the bar and back and lighting incense and putting on fans here and there, and yelling at people walking by “you bastards where are you going?” and putting on music and then back to us “oh, can I grab you some drinks? We’ve got cocktails and beer and everything.” He shouts over music while filling a tall glass with Laos vodka and a splash of coke.
Katie and I just look at each other with the same thought going through our heads.
“Just a water. And we’ll grab a pesto pizza too. Not happy. Just regular.” And off he went out back to put in our order.
Our bill read in meth-head scratch:
Pizza 45,000 Kip
Water 6,000 kip
BOW 50,000 kip
I paid him and brought the bill over to Katie about to burst.
“What’s BOW?” Katie asked.
“Uhhh…” I chuckled.
We walked back to the bungalows with Happy bellies.
DAY 9- Tubin’ & Chillin’
Note: No pictures from this day because due to the whole tubing thing, neither of us were willing to risk ruining our cameras in our dry sac, which didn’t turn out to be so dry anyways. You’ll have to use your imagination.
The line at the tubing office was decorated with a mash of characters all snaking from the desk like a party just waiting to burst out. We recognized the group ahead of us. It was the greasy & dreaded & tatted & pierced gangly Canadian who said in a few towns back that he’s going to start telling people that he’s American. So we had that to look forward to.
We move inside the large open shed and inch ourselves past the sun’s dividing line and into the shade. Stacks of abused black rubber tubes are stacked all tipsy-topsy atop one another to the tin ceiling 20 feet up. We reach the desk, sign in, pay, and load into an open aired tuk-tuk with a couple of German’s and a few English girls. New friends.
There must have been eight or ten tuk-tuks filled with eight people that left around the same time, all heading upstream with the roof of the truck bubbling with bouncy rubber. We come to a dead end that runs down to a rocky river bed where we grab our tubes and make a dash.
A little ways back Vang Vieng sort of shut down. All the bars than ran along the river were given a notice to shut down…too many deaths had been reported from just plain intoxicated behavior. Who knew that serving kids booze in buckets instead of cups, and mushroom pizzas and shakes and then letting them float down a river in a tube was a bad idea? Everything awesome comes to an end. So the 2.0 version we witnessed today was a little watered down, but it was still a hell of a good time.
There claim to be three bars, but one more newbie snuck itself in near the end, without the dance floor & music, Ping-Pong tables, beach volleyball, and a basketball court with a hose spraying water onto its shooters or people for that matter. These are the attractions, well these and drinking, before rope swings lined the shore. But those were the good ol’ days. It always takes a person a week to kill themselves before they shut down something fun.
By the time we left the last bar we had an hour and a half to float downstream to return our tubes. Katie had a bucket of rum/coke/Redbull in hand and we had linked heals on a tube of this white haired English girl named Sian (pronounced Shawn).
KT: Tubing down the river, being pulled into bars by ropes and people dressed in cow suits. There was body paint, the usual “slutty cat” and “slutty bar wench” Halloween costumes that you see everywhere else, and intense volleyball games. I chatted with the English girls we met in the tuk tuk, while learning a bit about Vang Vieng life by a
trashy party-happy girl who is now working at a bar in town because once she got to Vang Vieng she just couldn’t leave. Vang Vieng is like an eternal Spring Break. One of those things that Louis & I enjoyed for a day, but couldn’t stay there too long.
We get the tubes back twenty minutes too late and have to pay their fee. We dance our way back to our bungalow by 6:30pm and Katie and I are asleep by 7. Today is Halloween.
DAY 10- Friends Marathon
I don’t know how I got sick yesterday. I only had two beers and a shot from a bottle of whisky filled with scorpions. But I woke up feeling shittier than Katie did who was elbow
deep in rum buckets. (KT: HA! He makes me sound like a drunk.) Luckily, Vang Vieng has a wonderful hangover cure. There are a row of restaurants along the river that are comprised of nothing but day beds and pillows to prop yourself up on while you watch a 24/7 Friends marathon, with intervals of Family Guy and South Park. Today was a write off and after four hours of Ross and Rachel and wanting to put a bullet in my head we walked around the city and through the riverbed and back into our little bungalow at the edge town and saddled up against a fertile emerald mountain range.