12.03.2010 - 14.03.2010 29 °C
On arrival to Vang Vieng, following a (surprisingly) pleasant and uneventful journey we sat ourselves in one of the many bars, near the tubing drop-off point. We were still a bit confused as to what tubing entailed, but knew we were likely to enjoy it when we saw tuk-tuks full of drunk people arriving, soaking wet dragging their tubes behind them. Vang Vieng had been described to us as an Asian Malaga - this is exactly what it is. A small town of nothing but bars and Westerners. Tubing is the only daytime activity.
Sat at our vantage point allowed to bump into almost everyone we've met in the last 3 days, including two English girls, Becky and Katie who we decided to go to dinner with and join forces with for tubing the next day, as it was their first time here too. We had already decided before we began, that our trip to Vang Vieng would consist of nothing but eating and drinking and this is what we've been doing for the past 2 days.
We got up early to meet the girls and line our stomachs...we were recommended to hit tubing at 11am. We were a bit delayed as there seem to be only two cashpoints in the entire town - neither of which were working until after breakfast, so that we could finally get some alcohol funds for the day. What follows is hazy in our memories, but between us, we have tried to piece together what we can.
Now that we understand tubing...we'll explain it as best we can. You begin in Vang Vieng, signing away your life to rent a tube (rubber ring), you are given a number scrawled across your hand in permanent marker...you are then squeezed into a tuk tuk with 30,000 other people and the tubes tied on top to be dropped off 3km upstream. We were about 2 bars ahead of most people, which meant we mostly beat the crowd, but left us fairly bemused when we got left at the riverside and wondering what to do next.
The four of us took charge throwing ourselves with our tubes into the river making a pact to stop at every single bar to take advantage of the free shots from each. People stand on the side of the bars throwing ropes out to pull you into their bar. We made sure, having had our free shots, to buy a bucket in each bar. The shots (tiger whiskey) mostly came from bottles containing a number of animals including, to Donna's horror, massive bees. Needless to say, she opted for the snake bottle at that bar.
As we drank more and progressed down the river, we got enticed by the activities offered at each bar. These were mainly trapezes 40ft above the river which you could swing from, but included zip wires and a massive slide as well. We were worried about the embarrassment of falling as soon as we jumped off as we were concerned that we had irreversibly damaged our arms from the rope swing in Louang Phabang. After a couple of drinks, however, we no longer cared, which was fine as we both managed to keep our grip. Most of these were free...although some required you to buy drinks at whichever bar they were at. This was how we spent most of our day and meeting lots of people along the way as well. Laura, of course, believes it to have been the best day of her life, and for once, Donna thinks this not to be a ridiculous exaggeration. We made drunken plans to visit again every year.
Despite the fact that we were almost first to arrive, somehow we also managed to be almost the last to leave...paying a small fine (20,000 Kip) for late drop off of the tube. We proceeded to eat our own body weight in food on the five minute journey back to our guesthouse, before venturing out again for dinner...we have a feeling the girls may have passed out as they didn't manage to make it for dinner!
Luckily we have both escaped with our lives and no broken bones, but mishaps include Donna losing both her sunglasses and her flip flops, slipping over on her arse to bruise all along her legs, and managing to gash her toe. Laura doesn't have a mark on her, but has kindly given Donna some antiseptic wipes. We're slightly concerned about Becky's leg as on one of her trapeze outings she leg-flopped the water and had a delightfully red leg for the rest of the day.
Whilst eating dinner we went to one of the many bars constantly showing re-runs of Friends, but neither of us could face more alcohol, so once we both started to fall asleep, we called it a day and ended up in bed by half ten. Neither of us could face tubing today and are happy to keep what we can of the memory. We have high hopes for the photos, but Laura has recently revealed that she struggled with the view-finder on the waterproof camera and so just pointed the camera in the vague direction, hoping for the best.