Ah Vang Vieng. I loved Vang Vieng. I arrived from a short minibus journey from Vientiane on Day 23 of my travels. I didn’t take many pictures of my time in Vang Vieng but this was probably because I was having so much fun whilst there.
What was meant to be 3 nights here turned into 4 nights turned into 5 nights.
Some of the day’s blur into one so I’m just going to say some of my memories from these days…
As soon as I had got off the minibus there was a girl called Morgane from Quebec asking where Real Backpackers Hostel was…which just happened to be where I was staying also so I was more than happy to show her across the road and check in with her.
When I checked into my 6 bed dorm I soon noticed the room looked like a warzone. Later I found out I was sharing with 5 Canadian lads that all knew each other and had travelled together for varying amounts of time. Part of me did dread this a little at the start, but actually they were super cool people that were having a great time.
The floor got so dirty in the two nights they shared the room with me. There was a pair of ‘questionable’ underwear that was apparently a present from the previous girl in the room and stories of what had gone on. This pair of underwear later ended up on the head of one of the Canadian guys (nicknamed golfman) and a video was created of him recreating a Star Wars scene which was fucking hilarious.
There were clothes scattered everywhere and was broken glass from drunkenly breaking Beer Lao bottles. It was all a testament to the fact we didn’t care about anything other than having a good time.
They’d soon invited me to go drinking with them and we had such a laugh. They introduced me to my new home for the next 5 nights…Sakura Bar. Sakura bar was literally 1 minute away from our hostel and offered completely free whiskey drinks between 8pm and 9pm so everyone went there and got hammered during this time. A bottle of whiskey in Laos costs $2 so it probably didn’t cost the bar all too much as everyone bought drinks afterwards. Buying 2 vodka drinks got a free Sakura bar vest top that pretty much everyone in Asia has with the slogan of ‘drink treble, see double, act single’. My room mates amassed 18 vest tops!
The bar was a little crazy. Everyone was doing laughing gas balloons, and I remember playing beer pong with the guys. Officially the bar was meant to close at 12pm but there were after parties like ‘Jungle Party’ that allowed you to continue drinking past that time just a short complimentary Tuk Tuk journey away.
I remember a hilarious 17 year old Dutch girl that had been chatting to us that was definitely doing Holland proud with some conversations I definitely can’t write on a public blog.
On Day 24 I did a day trip with Morgane who had been on the bus with me from Vientiane and a German girl she had made friends with.
We trekked over 10km in the heat, through rivers, through a Laotian village, through the forest to a waterfall, swimming in the river and through an organic farm before heading back. The weird effects on the pictures are curtesy of my old HTC One…
The Laotian guide didn’t have the greatest English but what did you expect for $20 US dollars in Laos? He was a nice guy and I felt a little disappointed that the girls didn’t seem interested in anything involving swimming. We had trekked ages to the waterfall which was beautiful and was so lovely and refreshing following our trek but the girls barely got in, and later refused to swim in the river at all and just waited by the riverside. I guess it was their money so their choice but it still felt a bit of a waste for them.
Truth be told, I didn’t really see eye to eye with the German girl who seemed a little cold and intent on lecturing me on the virtues of being vegetarian (which I happily told her meant more meat for me…). I did however get on with Morgane and we ended up having a game of pool at the hostel that lasted around 1hr 30-2hrs. We were both pretty bad at pool though the table wasn’t flat so the balls rolled about all over the place, honestly!
After 2 nights, both the girls from the day trip and the guys I’d been sharing with all went on to Luang Prabang but I quickly made new friends.
The next day the room filled back up again and an English girl called Jade joined the madness along with a Chilean man called Boris. Boris was older at probably 30-40 but was a great guy. Jade was about my age and had been travelling with her sister and a few other English people she’d met on her travels in Vietnam. Unfortunately Jade’s sister had her card taken by an ATM in Vientiane so had to stay an extra day there and only joined the dorm on day 26.
During the day I went ‘tubing’. Vang Vieng is fairly famous in backpacker circles for the crazy tubing scene it used to have. In short, Vang Vieng is basically 5 small streets that was only ever really intended as a stopover on the longer journey people take from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. However, as more and more travellers took the journey, more hostels popped up and tubing came about. People would take inflatable rings along the Mekong river, get incredibly drunk and high going from river bar to river bar, swinging from rope swings into the water and being a menace.
Publicity started to grow, and so did the amount of deaths so the Lao government cracked down. There are now no longer any rope swings, and instead of the many bars along the river, there are now only 2 open at any day. Drugs and happy pizzas aren’t as easily obtained as they once were.
You rent a tube from the tubing office paying a fee and a deposit and as long as you return by 6pm with your inflatable intact, you get your deposit back.
I’d started my day by chatting to a couple of Danish girls and a Swiss guy at breakfast and ended up tubing with the Swiss guy on Day 26. He had a pretty cool idea of buying a few cans of beer before going and a bag of ice and we just ended up going down the Mekong river in our rings with chilled beer in our laps. (Unfortunately no pictures as too scared my phone would get wet…so many people lost their iPhones to the Mekong river from the hostel…)
It took around 3 hours of tubing from start to finish, and as it was low season the water was quite shallow so occasionally my arse did scrape the rocks at the bottom. Laos is also a lot cooler than Cambodia and Thailand so it seemed a little chilly. Comparing it to the craziness it once was before the government crackdown, it was like a lazy river ride for us – but that was fine.
In the evening I had dinner with the Swiss guy and also the two Danish girls I had met at breakfast at a lovely French restaurant. Our conversations were actually quite intellectual, discussing the EU for example and well… descended from there once we inevitably hit Sakura bar and had free drinks.
The next day I tubed yet again but this time with my roomies. Jades sister had arrived with her debit card from Vientiane back in her possession and we hit the bars and, yes, got drunk.
One of the previous evenings I had a lovely meal at an Irish bar with about 10 English people that were friends of Jade from the room which inevitably ended with me dancing topless on a table with someone Japanese.
However on my last evening, whilst tubing I made friends with an American girl that I ended up going to Sakura bar with. Loads of beer pong was played with her and a bunch of Thai girls, and after getting drunk and saying my goodbyes to the American girl, I bought 4 kinder buenos, a beef burger and a pancake from a market stall to try to sober me.
So yeah…Vang Vieng, the place I was drunk the majority of the time and made so many friends.