Tubing

Vang Vieng Travel Blog

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About to embark

After breakfast, we joined the queue in the centre of town for the popular backpacker activity of tubing. This involves sitting in a tractor inner tube and floating down the Nam Song River. We got in a tuk tuk to the starting point, carried our tubes down to the river and plopped in! We started to slowly float down the river; it seems every activity in Laos is designed to be relaxing.

Fairly soon after setting off we realised why it is such a popular pastime with backpackers: the beer. We soon reached the first bar, stocked with beerlao and a free zip line across the river to entice customers. We gave this a miss and floated down a little further, before stopping at another riverside bar. This one gave us a free shot of the local firewater 'lao lao' which was fairly grim, and we sat on the bank with a beerlao.

Quick stop for a beerlao
Back on the river we passed many bars with rope swings that got higher and higher, the music getting louder and cheesier, and the tubers getting drunker and braver!

The best part was actually further down past the bars, where you could float in peace, and admire the scenery. At various points were Lao people selling beer, including one woman perched precariously underneath a bridge! Very surreal.  We continued down the river, and after three or four hours were getting to the point where we'd had enough. Simultaneously, the sky went black. Luckily, we had reached a point where there were tuk tuks so decided to get out and get a lift back to the town. Unfortunately, we were sharing a tuk tuk with an individual who was clearly deranged, as he refused to pay the tuk tuk man, and along with his friend, refused to get out and walk.

Relaxing day on the river
He made matters worse by screaming and swearing at the driver.  By this time, the wind was howling, it was starting to rain, we were in wet t-shirts and shorts, and shivering violently. Consequently, the tuk tuk man refused to set off. After a row that involved both of us and several other members of the tuk tuk, we eventually set off, dropped off the tubes, and sprinted in the pouring rain back to our guest house.

The incident marred what was otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable day. It's a great pity that the odd person lets down the majority of travellers who endeavor to get on well with, and show respect for, their hosts.

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About to embark
About to embark
Quick stop for a beerlao
Quick stop for a beerlao
Relaxing day on the river
Relaxing day on the river
Sailing down the river
Sailing down the river
A riverside bar
A riverside bar
Vang Vieng
photo by: razorriome