EDIT – MAY 2013 – I decided to put back a few of my older unedited stories which didn’t make into the book or only a very small part of it, so yes, they can be a bit boring. If you want to read the exciting and adventurous stuff I suggest you buy my book. It is packed with some of the most outrageous travel stories you’ll ever read.
It was time to visit the big backpacker trap named Vang Vieng, a place where every backpacker in South East Asia will end up at some point. When I walked of the bus I saw two English speaking white guys walking bare feet. I don’t know what their plan was, maybe a book named “Around the world barefeet” it looked disgusting.
The biggest reason backpackers go to Vang Vieng is the tubing down the river. It’s a debauchery of 21 year old drunk and drugged up backpackers. During the day people go tubing and get drunk at one of the many bars on the side of the river. The river and its bars have a sort of Mad Max look and when you’re there for the first time its fun to do. When you’re on the inner tube, Laotian guys will throw ropes and pull you into the bar area where lot of people get drunk on cheap cocktails. There were slides, ziplines and every one had paint on their body saying they were sluts or take it up the ass. I felt old and not at ease here. It was clearly not my scene. Girls would climb up the rocks, get to the bar and scream wooohooo !! every two minutes.
At night, all the bars were open and people got drunk in the many drinking games or rounds of free drinks. I tried to pick up some girls but since I had no verbally strong game yet and the girls there has an attention span of a minute until the next woohooo, I didn’t bother too much with it. Most of them were fat backpacker girls anyway. When the bars closed people moved to the riverside bars and drank buckets of Vodka red bull. I go drunk here a few times but usually not too much because I hate hangovers. Sleeping was not too great because many times there were loud ceremonies in the Buddhist temple next to my hotel.
A guy who is a party animal with game and can get let go of all shame would kill it here with the girls. I’m not that guy and am way too self conscious for this kind of things.
I paid only 3 dollar for a hotel room with a small bathroom. It was a hotel where a lot of Japanese tourists would go. I talked to them quite a few times but somehow conversation went slow. There were shitloads of restaurants in Vang Vieng all playing the same television shows. It was either Family guy or Friends. I’m more of a Friends person so I usually sat down in the same place. One day I had a lot of eye contact with a cute girl but she left soon after with her girlfriends. The next time I saw her again she was wearing a long dress but when she sat down her dress moved up and showed some disgustingly hairy legs. I lost my appetite immediately and gave her an obvious dirty look. She should learn to behave like a woman and not like an unshaved feminist. It only convinced me more how white backpacker girls are not for me. Most of them dress bad and don’t take care of them selves. Still they walk around thinking like they’re the main prize. I ran into a similar situation in Bolivia a year later.
I found a massage salon with a very young and hot girl working there. A massage would cost around 3.5 dollar for one hour and the girl would sit on you in a short hotpants. Talking to her was difficult because her English vocabulary didn’t go beyond 10 words. I killed my time with reading some pick up info and watching movies at daytime and by going out at night. Some people were really fucked up on drugs and acted crazy and made complete fools of themselves in front of everyone. I took it easy with the mushroom shakes and smoked some opium instead. Prices of the drugs were complete rip offs and I guess half was fake.
I can’t believe I stayed 10 days here but I did, like I said before I didn’t feel at ease in this scene and decided to go back to Cambodia where I would be a somebody again. Dara and Nina had both been emailing me asking when I returned. I had to go to Bangkok first, to cross the Thai/Cambodian border in the east. It was not possible to go from Laos to Cambodia with a Cambodian visa form the embassy. The other way around is possible as you have read in the beginning of this story. After this I took one of the worst bus rides of my trip.
2013 update: According to Wikipedia there’s no more tubing and getting drunk along the river side as of the third quarter of 2012. At least 22 tourists died in 2011 while tubing down the river. No need to say that the majority of people that drowned were probably very drunk and/or stoned. Safety measures were non-existent and personally I wouldn’t go down that river with more than a couple of beers in me. The river has some rapids down the river ( not in pictures) and I can imagine that on a windy or stormy day those mild rapids can turn into something more dangerous.
Some pictures of Vang Vieng river chaos