in the tubing!

Some photos from my weekend in Vang Vieng!

The quintessential Vang Vieng photo... tubing, beer, guy on a zip line.
The quintessential Vang Vieng photo... tubing, beer, guy on a zip line.
It's actually really, really beautiful there.
It's actually really, really beautiful there.
BeerLao!  Station Mao!
BeerLao! Station Mao!
Cooking the snake!
Cooking the snake!
The bloodied head of the snake.
The bloodied head of the snake.
The finished product... maybe not for everyone.
The finished product... maybe not for everyone.

As much as Vang Vieng it definitely not experiencing “authentic Laos”, I always have a great time when I go there.  However, one of my favorite things about it is “passively participating”; a term Alana and I came up with.  This means participating to the extent that you can still mock everyone else around you for being stupider and drunker than you, which still enjoying the tubing and a Beerlao.  I do have to say I saw some pretty horrific sights this last time I was there, the kind of things that make me actually feel bad for the Lao people who live there.  I was walking down a street and I actually saw a young man, esentially in process of passing out, in the gutter, puking on himself, with one shoe on.  He also had a really tacky mohawk and I had seen him earlier in the street shouting obscenities in English.

I also saw some guy so drunk they could hardly walk, stumbling up the street.  This was slightly amusing to me in a comical way, but I wondered what kind of impression that left on Lao people.  But I saw one Lao man watching them, and laughing really hard.  “Mao lai lai!” he said (Really really drunk!).  So, maybe it’s not that bad.

I also met this couple who had met 3 weeks earlier in Vang Vieng.  The girl was English and the guy was Australian, and he was proudly, and drunkenly, showing off where she had branded her name into his lower abdominal area.  “I never want another woman to touch my junk again!” he kept hollering.

As I sat, quietly sipping my Beerlao, an extremely drunk man appraoched me and said “Hi Darling”

“Do I know you?”

“No, but wait just a minute, I’m going to the toilet, I’ll be right back.”

I could hardly wait.

This man (Francis) then came back and insisted on drunkenly slobbering in my ear for the next 30 minutes about how he was African (even though he had white skin…) and about how his life philosophy was “PASSION! VISION! ACTION!”.  Eventually something else distracted him and I managed to scurry off unnoticed.

Vang Vieng… what a strange place.  But fun, nevertheless.

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vang vieng… where safety comes to die

In looking for information about Vang Vieng I stumbled onto this blog that describes some one’s trip to Vang Vieng as “where safety comes to die”.  I thought that was a fairly accurate portrait of the town – in my experience, it’s hard to beleive that so few people have died there.  I went off a really high water slide a few times and came dangerously close to hitting some rocks.  Vanessa sliced her foot open.  Everyone was drunk and/or high, jumping off 10 m high rope swings, constructed of rickety-looking wooden sticks.  The river is pretty low right now, but I would be terrified to attempt the tubing in the rainy season. Some other unsafe activities I spotted are as follows:

Open fires

Glass bottles

Very loud music

Unprotected sex

Walking barefoot

Illegal drugs

Running with scissors

Kayaking without a permit

Drinking untreated water

Really… the list can just go on and on.

The other somewhat horrifying things about Vang Vieng was that at least 2 restaurants were simautaneously showing Friends the entire time I was there.  Non-stop Friends.  In 2 different restaurants.  Other restaurants featured Lao cultural gems such as “Family Guy”, “The Simpsons”, and “Ghostbusters”.  Also, about 75% of the restaurants in the town actually have the exact same menu, which is pages and pages long and has everything imaginable on it.  However, if you ask for the fish, don’t be surprised if they make you wait 1 hour, and then come back to tell you, “Sorry, we don’t have any fish”.

“in the tubing”

So, Vanessa, Amanda and I went to Vang Vieng for the weekend.  Even though it’s only about 3 hours from Vientiane, I had never been.  I had heard a lot about Vang Vieng, both good and bad, so it was nice to finally get to experience it for myself.  My overall impression was that it’s a really lovely town, and the mountains are awesome, and the Nam Song is beautiful. The whole thing, however, is kind of spoiled by the drunk tourists.  Anyway, we did the “in the tubing”, and I have to say, despite all the drunkads, and the loud, shitty techno music constantly blaring, it was really fun, and I would do it again.  Except I managed to loose my sunglasses.

Some pictures from our tubing adventure:

about 5 seconds after getting in the tube, vanessa cut her foot on a rock.  we had to stop and mop up the blood and bandage her foot with a plastic bag, and then were back on our way.
about 5 seconds after getting in the tube, vanessa cut her foot on a rock. we had to stop and mop up the blood and bandage her foot with a plastic bag, and then were back on our way.
Vanessa "in the tubing"
Vanessa "in the tubing"
we took a break to get some beerlao
we took a break to get some beerlao
Amanda in the tubing
Amanda in the tubing
these were the annoying people i mentioned previously
these were the annoying people i mentioned previously

Some of these people were actually an embarassment to the human race.  I saw a girl in a bikini that had “free jungle trekking” written in permanent marker on her stomach with an arrow pointing down, and another with “up the bum = no babies” on her back.

Who let these people out of their country?

Despite these annoyances, the tubing was great, and when Alana comes here in 2 weeks, we are going again!  Vang Vieng is a really pretty town.  I hope next time I can do some spelunking!