August 5, 2007
We arrived at an old bus station in the middle Vang Vieng. The trip was comfortable, despite some very arrogant behaviour of some bus passengers. For example an Israeli woman decided that her ticket would entitle her to two seats: one for herself and her bag. When a Laotian politely asked if he could sit next to her, she just waved her hand at him. The bus driver had to get involved—so the Israeli woman sat up with her boyfriend who was doing the same thing.
In Vang Vieng the bus station is on an old air strip referred to by the USA during the Vietnam Wat as Lima Site 27. As the war in Laos was secret, they never used the real names of the places. Referring to my Lonely Planet: from 1964 to 1973 the amount of bombs dropped by the US was approximately half a tonne for every man, woman child living in Laos; 1.9 million metric tonnes in total.
We had made a decision that we wanted to see another Full Moon Party in Thailand again. This was on August 27th, and so we decided to increase the pace of the Laos tour. We would spend only two or three days at Vang Vieng. Vang Vieng is a small town in the mountains, which has basically been overrun by Falang (westerners). Some people come here and really hate it for that very reason. The main calling for Vang Vieng is the Nam Song river.
For many years now back packers consider it right of passage to take inflated tractor tubes down a 3 kilometre section and get plastered at the bars perched on the river banks. Most bars have a flying fox or swing to shoot you back upstream so you can swim back to the bar. Repeat this process all afternoon…
Sam and I undertook that activity on the second day as part of a cave tour that started at 8am.
First on the day’s agenda was cave viewing. We drove an oversized tuk tuk about 40 minutes outside of town to a village known as “Elephant Village.” The village is named after a nearby cave and the cave is named after a natural rock formation inside that resembles an elephant. To be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with this cave. It was about the size of a garage and had a few statues of Buddha inside – nothing too exciting.
The next cave was much better. It was actually an underwater cave and in order to go inside, we had to float on inner tubes. The group of about 10 of us lined up in single file in order to float along the shallow waters of the cave. It was pitch black inside so we all had to wear miners lights on our heads to see the cool limestone formations inside. It was a pretty deep cave and it took about 45 minutes for us to go all the way to the end and back.
Late in the afternoon it was tubing time. I didn’t drink too much, but there was a lot of people, mainly English,that were getting fairly rowdy. As we were still part of the tour our guide came along too on his kayak. It was helpful because he told us where to actually finish up at the end of day. The Nam Song river splits and so you have to know what river to take in order to exit, or else you would go on forever.
That night we avoided drinking in the “Friends bars.” What I can not stand is American pie-in-the-face comedy—”Friends” fits that category. Sam shares the same sentiment.
We decided that one full day of tubing and drinking was enough. Late that night we booked the bus to go to Vientiane the next morning.