Took the 8 hour bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. VV is known as the party village of Laos. It used to be famous for non-stop drinking and hard drugs; however, in 2012, the government cracked down after a few drug related deaths. It’s definitely still a party scene though set in a serene setting described as an oil painting. Caves, kayaking, rock climbing and hiking are all popular activities. But the biggest thing it’s known for is the daytime tubing/bar trip down the river. Everyone rents tire tubes and as you float down the river bars throw ropes out for you to catch and be pulled in. There are 4 bars left on the river. There are also 2 restaurants in town that play Friends episodes non-stop, and 2 that play Family Guy. I couldn’t wait for it all.
I stayed at Easy Go, the cheaper party hostel. Not known for it’s cleanliness but I needed to stay in a cheaper spot this week, plus my Canadian girlfriend from Pai stayed there and recommended it. The dorms were bigger than I expected (4 beds and not bunkbeds) and it had a great common area. All wooden and laid out like a tree house almost. The place however is very small and therefore you can hear absolutely everyone all the time. I didn’t sleep at all while staying there. The beds are rock hard, the worst I’ve had to far.
The nighttime circuit is Sakura bar, then Fat Monkey, then the club. Basically beer pong, beer pong, then dancing. The bars sell Happy Balloons. I thought it was helium so after inhaling I started talking. Fail. All the Europeans who apparently do these regularly were blowing the air back into the balloons, then inhaling again, then back in. Apparently you do this until you can’t physically do it anymore, and you’re left with a 10-second high. It’s definitely just suffocating yourself, which is crazy. I didn’t try it for real.
The two happy pizza places in town are Milan Pizza and Tifalcony Pizza, which both sell weed and shroom anything. Definitely not legal but I assume the bars pay off the cops since they even advertise it.
My first morning I got a egg and cheese sandwich, without cucumber obviously, and extra tomatoes. The second morning I repeated the same order to the same woman and she was like “I know I know same same.” After 20 minutes she came out with a cucumber and cheese sandwich, without tomatoes or egg. That’s Asia for you.
I went tubing twice. The first time was crowded and really fun. The second time was a lot tamer but it would have been hard to beat the first time. The first bar has beer pong tables, beach volleyball and grass soccer. The second bar has beer pong tables, a muddy volleyball court and a sumo wrestling water pit. Everyone is covered from head to toe in the copper mud color after playing volleyball here. The third bar has a dance floor and DJ- but first they always do a game of musical tubes. The last bar has a basketball court in the middle of the bar. For all the bars the activities are always the most crowded.
The tubing is surreal. The partying feels just like college but you’re surrounded by huge green mountains and a river. It’s a 5-10 minute tube ride from bar to bar and it feels incredible when you lay back and take it all in. Older kayakers passing are common. When you get close to a bar the workers throw out a string with a plastic bottle attached and they pull you in. They take the tube and you’re free to go party. All you have with you is money and maybe a shirt if you want it. On my first day I got a bar shirt in a XL which was popular for girls- like a daytime party dress. Mine’s neon green from Apple Bar.
At the third bar my second time around I decided to order noodle soup, mostly because I’ve become obsessed with soup and eat it a few times a day. I was siting at a table alone when a bunch of local Lao men invited me to their table. They were all in their 40s and owned guesthouses in town. I drank BeerLao Gold with them and ate a grilled fish head that they caught and cooked. It’s common here and was really tasty.
My forth day I got another massage. The girl who massaged me was very hungover, which was a complete shock. It’s common to see local drunk men but not women. As she massaged me she kept falling over onto her face. About halfway through she started hiccuping and ran for the bathroom. I could hear her throwing up as I laid there. Another girl finished the massage, but there were no apologies or anything.
Favorite meals. One day I had breakfast at The Veggie. Carrot juice and Veggie spaghetti with garlic bread. My daily go-to was the rice soup from the Friends restaurants. I had the soup at least 10 times and got a few other people obsessed with it too. Just thick rice soup that over-powered with chili flakes. The ham and cheese baguette from the street vendors was to die for. They fry the ham a bit first and used real cheese, not laughing cow like everywhere else. They also heat the bread on the fry pan too. But there’s a massive lack of passion fruit and avocado in this town.
My last day I did a cave, kayaking tour. We went through a dark cave with flashlights on our heads. Pulling our way through the darkness along a rope. There ended up being nothing at the end and we just turned around and went back. For lunch there was a BBQ and sliced papaya. Next we went to the Mekong and kayaked down the river. The kayaking was rough at points which was really fun. My kayaked never tipped but our friends did. At the end of the 50 min ride we stopped at the last bar. We were much earlier than the tubers but it was still relaxing. I re-found my two small puppies, Calvin and Sam, and played with them for over an hour. We then continued down the river and landed in town.
All in all Vang Vieng destroyed me, which I think it does to most people. Two to three days really is enough. Most people go straight from all day day-drinking to the night circuit. I couldn’t. I have scrapes and bruises all over my body from tubing (walking all over rocks to park it.) My first time tubing I didn’t know there was a metal part sticking out for air and I landed right on it scratching my lower back. My second day tubing I ran right over a jagged rock that was underwater, which bruised my butt and scratched my back pretty hard. You don’t wear shoes at all, which means you’re also walking through the dirty town streets barefoot.
Lost: My first time tubing I came home with different sunglasses, the second day with none.
My flip-flops were missing from the club the first night. I stole someone else’s to walk home and when I woke up one of them was missing. I think someone put on two different shoes by mistake.