Clinton Harrison . com

Travelogue and Gallery

Vang Vieng, Laos

I planned to stay in Laos only for a night or two, then make my way down through Thailand to Cambodia, but plans changed somewhat after I arrived at the airport and met a group of guys from Perth.

Once we’d gone through customs, we met up in the airport and got chatting.  It was decided it would be best for me to go tubing in Vang Vieng (it didn’t take much convincing).

We all decided to hitch a ride into town in a taxi.  It was here we met out future driver for the entire time in Laos, Mr Toon.  It turned out the name really suited the individual, as Mr Toon was quite a humorous guy.  If only I had a dollar for every time he said “no problem”….

 

The next day we took the long windy trip up to Vang Vieng (about 4 hours) through the mountains with Mr Toon and his pimped out Hyundai van.  From this point on, my memory has failed me in a lot of areas – mainly due to the cost of various buckets filled with vodka that are readily available in most of the bars around the town.

What I can remember however, is that we took a half day kayak trip down the Nam Song river.  The scenery around Vang Vieng is absolutely spectacular.  Floating on the river, the town of Vang Vieng is on your left, while massive mountains rise up from nowhere on the right.  The view was amazing, and I’m disappointed I didn’t have a waterproof camera to take with me while kayaking.

Surprisingly, one thing we were supplied with while kayaking was life jackets – and I’m glad we were.  Out kayak was, let’s say, not of the highest quality.  In fact, it seemed to take on more and more water as the trip progressed.  After one set of not overly huge rapids, we seemed to be sitting lower in the water than most of the other guys.  When it came time to take a turn to the left, all hope was gone.  Over we went, and unfortunately straight into some rocks, where the kayak lodged itself.  Chad, who I was with at the time, floated off down the river, leaving me wedged up hard against the kayak with the weight of the river pushing up against my back.

After some struggling and maneuvering, I finally managed to get the kayak off the rocks, where it floated another 2 metres directly into a tree, thrusting me up against it and pushing me down.  With some more persuasion, the kayak came free again, and floated away, allowing me to float along behind it, scraping my legs along the bottom of the river which was home to a foray of jagged rocks.  Eventually the river deepened, and I could catch up to the kayak, which was still in no way seaworthy, however the main adventure was over, so I’ll leave it at that….

 

The next day was tubing day, at a guess, the main reason 99% of younger people go to Vang Vieng.  It didn’t take long to figure out what the tubing was all about.  Really, it wasn’t as much to do with tubing  as it was to do with drinking a lot of alcohol in buckets.  I must confess I did have a great time while I was there, and was happy to swim in the river and jump off random swings , however I can’t say I would recommend it.  After skipping through a couple of different bars and drinking a lot of buckets, it was getting dark before we knew it.  The end result – we got in our tubes (not me, I’d lost mine by this stage) and floated off down the river in the dark, with rain pouring down.  After floating for about 5 minutes we realised we were one member short – but there wasn’t much we could do at this stage, apart from hope he was back at the hotel when we go there.  We decided to continue floating down the river, to see if we could find a way out – as we really had no idea where we were.  About 5 minutes later, through the heavy rain, we saw a guy on the side of the bank waving a torch at us!  We made a beeline straight for the torch, and thankfully, it was a tuk-tuk driver ready to take us back into town, where we would later meet up with the lost member of our group.

 

The next day we decided to go again, except this time we thought it would be just as easy to go tubeless and walk along the shore, going from bar to bar.  At one stage we decided to swim from our current bar down to the next, as all the tubes had been taken (ours included).  Looking out at the river, you can see how fast the current is going, but probably don’t appreciate the strength it has.  Saying that, we decided to swim anyway.  I consider myself a fairly strong swimmer, especially for short distances, but with the flow of the water and probably the number of buckets I’d consumed, it was hard work staying above the water.  One of the other guys I was swimming down with, who wasn’t particularly great at swimming was really having a hard time, so much in fact, I stopped where I was by grabbing a rope that was floating out into the stream ready to grab him.  Luckily he managed to get a hold of the rope and pull himself into shore, swearing he would never swim in there again – and he didn’t.

 

The tubing industry has had some amazing effects on the town of Vang Vieng.  I’m sure it brings an amazing amount of money into the town which otherwise wouldn’t exist, however it definitely takes away from the beautiful scenery and culture of the town.  I wish I had some more photos to share, but unfortunately my camera got wet while tubing, and decided to not take photos anymore…

 

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.