After a 4 hour bus ride I arrived in Vang Vieng. The "adventure/party" capital of Laos.
Immediately upon arrival to my hostel, I was aware of the party vibe that surrounded this town. Not only was it the backpackers, but the locals. The outdoor karaoke bar across the street from me with inaudible singing coming from it was a dead give away. If anyone who knows me are reading this you're aware that I am not a newbie to the party scene. However, at the ripe age of 27 I feel as though I have toned it down immensely from my prime days. That does not mean I don't like to have a good time by any means. Im not sure I was ready for what this area had to offer. The first night however was a dinner and live music and a local irish pub. Yes, I said irish pub. Then bed early for me. I had a 430am wake up call to get to my sun rise hot air balloon ride.
I have never been on a hot air balloon ride so I am not so sure what I expected. Lucky there was two balloons going off so not only could I see the first one set up and go but the images I got were more visually appealing to have the second balloon in them. The whole ride lasted less than 45 min and its really amazing how they can steer the balloon with just hot air. Seeing Laos at sunrise from the sky was breath taking.
Very popular in Vang Vieng is the tubing. If you're familiar with the Sacco River tubing in Maine, you may have an idea. It’s like Sacco, but on steroids. I had no intentions of partaking because again *im old*, but after a few beer Laos' I was easily convinced. After a quick nap after my morning balloon ride I was ready. We rented a tube for 5 dollars and a tuk tuk took us to the top of the river where we got in and prepared for our relaxing float down the river.
As soon as you enter the river you and 100 other tubers are being hauled out to the first river side bar by ropes and swings. It’s almost like you didn't have a choice. The first bar is fun, people are playing volleyball, sun bathing and drinking of course. After some time at that bar the group I was with decides to pack up some drinks to go and head down the river again. By the time our small group integrated to about 20 and we were all holding onto each other as we shared backpacking stories, the good, the bad, the helpful. And then…
Next bar. Good god, I could hear this bar from way up the river. This time we were waved in to where hundreds of tubes for piled up and up to the party, I mean bar. Before even getting a drink I was pushed into limbo under a stick that was on fire. They had pool tables, beer pong, basketball, drinks and drinks. It was chaos. You have to bring your tube back before 6 or you lose your deposit. So a while later we all made our way back to the water and headed back.
Now to exit the river, they say “you'll know when” and you walk back to town with your tube. Well somewhere along the river we were being waved in by tuk tuks. Was it the end? Who knows, we were probably safer getting off their anyway. I mainly hung with two girls from my hostel. Katie and Sylvia. Katie was from England and Sylvia from Australia. Somewhere after dropping off the tubes we realized Sylvia wasn't with us. We had her bag though. We had no real choice but to go back to the hostel shower and wait. We walked back outside the hostel and Sylvia comes running down the street yelling “I made it, I made it” It honestly was hilarious although the whole experience seems a bit fuzzy now. We went to dinner and I left early as it was past by bed time (Im sure it was 9pm) and I am not a champ anymore.
To clear a few things up. This river used to have many, many more bars. There has been several deaths and they shut down the whole thing for a few years. I understand why.
***NONE of these photos are mine. I did not have a dry bag so I didn't bring any camera or phone with me. I also didn't want to lose my go pro so these are mostly photos Sylvia took with her go pro. They seemed like a good idea at the time.