Vang Vieng, Laos – Birthday Tubing and Boozing
Between Laos’ ancient capital of Luang Prabang and current capital of Vientiane lies a small town called Vang Vieng. There’s not that much to do in Vang Vieng save for two things:
1.) Drink Alcohol
2.) Ride Tubes on the Nam Song River
One could make the argument that a third could be drinking delectable fruit smoothies for $.50, but for simplicity’s sake we shall leave it at two.
Normally Jenna and I would steer clear of a town with this description as we’ve grown tired of anything touristy and have been trying, successfully to this point, to cut down our booze intake BUT there was something else to take into consideration…
OUR BIRTHDAYS!! Er, well specifically my birthday. Jenna’s was on the 10th in Luang Prabang and mine on the 13th.
And because on birthdays it’s ok to forget any positive life changes you’ve worked hard to achieve (isn’t it?!?) we decided that Vang Vieng sounded GREAT and set off.
Now while the town itself is a bit of a weird place, we did manage to get outside it and find some caves our first day where we had a nice swim with some locals.
En route we crossed the river which we would be cruising down the next afternoon and were actually delighted with what we saw – some of the scenery was very New Zealand-esque (and I don’t say that lightly) and others very Secret Garden-esque (I’ve never said that).
So the next afternoon we rented our tubes and set off on our adventure down the river!
It was a glorious, hot day. Oh what this adventure may hold for us!
Here we g…….wait.
Is that a bar? We’ve only gone 100ft.
And there’s a guy throwing a tow rope to reel us into his bar.
Guess I forgot to mention that’s how river tubing in Vang Vieng works; you float down the river on a tube and hit 5 different bars, the next attempting to get you more drunk than the last.
Also, after this first bar, the next 4 are separated by no more than 500ft – and you stop at each one.
So much for cutting back on the booze.
Grabbing the tow line we headed into Bar #1 where we joined about 50 other tourists (mostly under 22, mostly British and Aussies) in playing a terribly sloppy game of flip cup (mostly due to that fact that most people there had never heard of the game before – guess you’re fancy free university systems didn’t teach you THAT huh guys?!? My college education paying off big time!) followed by lots of heavy-handed shot pours of some sort of cheap, local rum.
It also slipped that it was my actual birthday which earned me a forced shot about 15x the size of everyone else’s.
This could have easily been a short birthday. Luckily at the next couple bars the patrons were not as generous with their handouts and I was able to sustain this liquid punch to my brain.
There was also the beautiful scenery I talked about before. Here’s how most of the day was spent when not holding a rum drink:
We also met some really cool people along the way notably one couple, Jacqueline & Ben, who were moving to Charleston, SC from somewhere in the Caribbean. Rough life.
The four of us got ahead of the main crowd as we were trying to avoid a late tube return fee which afforded us the opportunity to shoot some hoops at the final bar and take the full brunt of the bartender’s voracious desire to drown tourists in rum.
We made it back just in time to avoid the fee and then promptly spent all of our savings at a local Mexican restaurant (which surprisingly turned out to be delicious).
We knew exactly what we were going to get with Vang Vieng…and we got it.
And you know what? It made for a really great birthday.