Angie and Me in SE Asia travel blog

On my way tubing

Views from a pub

Barring our way on our walk

Views on our walk

More views on our walk

Sunset from the pub

Sunset from the pub 2

Suns almost gone now

Today was one of the days I had been looking forward to the whole trip. Tubing down the river in Vang vieng, its what everybody does when they come here. As it only takes a few hours, well one if you dont stop on the way, there was no rush to get out of bed this morning. We woke and Angie was still feeling under the weather, we had a lazy morning and put off the tubing till midday, in the hope that Angie would feel up to it. As it turned out she was still feeling far to fragile at that point to get into a tyre, float down the river and drink beer. So I had a full english breakfast (The condemned man ate a hearty meal), I had said I would only eat native while i was away and I am pleased I have stuck to that so far, but the guest house had no Laos options for breakfast. Angie came down with me, to the community project building that organise the tubing. I paid for the tube, which includes a tuk tuk ride to the start, had a number written in permanent marker on the back of my hand, signed a disclaimer in the event of my death, this is a safe activity honest, hired a dry bag for my clothes and I was ready for the off. Got in the back of the tuk tuk with 4 girls from the Uk who had just finished their A levels and a very young Japanese couple, I feel old. Angie took photos as I set off, up river to the start. The tuk tuk dropped us at a bar about 5km upstream. I took of my trousers and put them into the dry bag. I noticed I was the only one wearing a top so not wanting to stand out anymore than I already did, the tee shirt went into the dry bag too. On entry of the first bar everybody was given a shot of something fairly nasty, I had mine and decided that would be the only drink I had in that bar. I had been told there are over 20 bars on the way down so having a drink in each would prove to be not only messy but also dangerous. It appears that this tubing thing is just one big floating party. The next bar down looked the liveliest, so I got in or on my tube and floated down towards that one. Unfortunately nobody had showed me how to steer the thing. After about 50 yards I went ploughing into a load of reeds and almost headed off down a tributary of the river before I managed to sort myself out and get back on track to the the bar. As you approach the bars, the staff on the side through out a line with a ring or plastic bottle on the end. You catch the rope and they pull you in to the bank. This bar was fairly crowded, with loud dance music blaring out. Most people were drinking "buckets" of shorts and mixers, not really my thing so I had a beer. The was also a rope swing that went across the river, which people where enjoying and then just dropping into the river, to be pulled back in by the staff with their ropes. I sat alone sipping my beer, taking in this strange atmosphere of a loud party full of excess, in one of the most beautiful locations I have ever visited. The river is set amongst giant limestone karsts, sticking up to the sky. The limestone is mainly covered by trees and shrubs. After finishing my beer it was time to leave the party and the 80 or so party goers at this bar and head further down the river, in order to stay relatively sober I missed out the next bar, but the bar after looked ok so I allowed myself to be dragged into there. This bar contained some of the early starters from the party, about 8 to be exact, who were sat they, drinking their buckets waiting for the rest to catch up. I had another beer here , watched a few people use the swing in this bar, then as others began to arrive I decided to move off. Just felt a bit old and not into the party scene on my own. Thought I would slowly cruise down the river and have another drink or two near the end. Although the current of the river looked fast, the journey was fairly leisurely, as I layed back, looked up at the terrific views around me, this really was a great thing to do on a hot day, not sure it would take off down the Thames though. The sun shone, the music faded out into the distance as the trip became far more serene away from the revellers. After passing umpteen bars with nobody in them and the sun beating down, I decided it was time to cool down with another cool beer. The next bar to appear I would definitely stop at, well I would have done if there were anybody there to pull me in. The staff at the later bars new the party would not arrive for at leas a couple of hours, so they hadnt turn up to work yet. I was therefore forced to forego my last couple of drinks and gradually float down to the end of the tubing experience, with a great thirst, but also having enjoyed the whole thing, apart from feeling old. It was a shame Angie hadnt been able to make it because the expoerience would have been so much better shared. As you get back to the town, very small boys dive into the water and drag you into the side, then demand money as soon as you get on dry land. After paying off these human tugboats, I made my way back to the centre of town and the community cooperative that run the show. I handed in my dry bag and inner tube and received my deposit back. There were still many late partygoers arriving, paying their money and heading off to join, by now what must be a quiet raucous gathering further up river.

So after my two hours of adventure I made my way back to the guest house and a waiting and bored Angie, who was now desperate to go out and do something. We made our way down to Kangeroo Sunset, a bar that overlooks the rivers and mountains and close to a bridge that leads to the other side of the river. We had a drink and shared some spring rolls as a late lunch. We then, after paying the toll, wandered over the wooden bridge behind a cow. Once on the other bank we strolled past the few buildings then soon found ourselves in the countryside and on a path through the paddy fields towards the caves and lagoon. After about 15 minutes of following the path we still hadnt reached oyur destination but had come across, two ticket sellers who were sat under a tree with three dogs selling tickets if you wanted to go any further. Well we had come this far so we paid our money and carried on. This turned out to be a mistake, because within 200 yards we arrived at a stream that we were unable to cross and had to turn back. We turned round and retraced or steps all the way back to the Kangeroo Sunset. We went back in and had our dinner and a few drinks, I had a very nice Massaman Curry (which the bar is well known for) and a couple of large beerlao, while Angie had the staple chicken and cashew nuts, washed down by seven up and a pineapple juice. When we had finished and on our way out we got into a conversation with the owner, who was a rel nice bloke from Ireland, which meant the conversation went on a bit, but he did tell us about the bar, his life story and the town. After we left there it was time to call it a night and go back to the guest house.

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