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Vang Vieng Travel Blog

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Speedboat from Houay Xai to Luang Prabang in Laos

After our mighty Gibbon adventure it's time for me to catch up with my LaoCrew. The two Israeli, Germans and Poms went on the two day slowboat to Luang Prabang, so if I get there in one day I'm effectively only one day behind. Getting to Luang Prabang in one day from Houay Xai means either catching a bus for 14 hours or taking a speedboat down the Mekong for six hours. Tough choice, not really. Everyone in Laos is eager to tell you horror stories about the speedboats, Lonely Planet most of all. Stories about drownings, deaths, discussions of banning falang (westerners) from the speedboats, blahdiblahdiblah. Or as Niezsche once said: whatever. Handing out crash helmets and lifejackets does no good for the image, but my ride was absolutely safe.

Laundry
High speed racing over the Mekong, but with a skilled captain we were never in a dangerous situation. No worries! Which doesn't mean speedboats are a nice way of transport by the way. It gets you to places fast alright, but you're completely folded up all that time. Sore legs, ass and back guarenteed. Also, bring earplugs if you reckon you need your hearing capabilities again, somewhere along the road of life (that's a nice one, no?)

A couple of days in Luang Prabang doesn't yield much. Some Wats to see, some caves, and a nightmarket is all there is. The Royal palace museum is mildly interesting for 45 minutes but after having seen that, all that lasts is going for (heavenly) massages at the Red Cross and watching Roland Garros in the Sports Bar.

So, time to move on. A minivan to Vang Vieng is easily organized and surprise, surprise, full with Dutchies.

Does it get any better than this? Smile Bar pumping music in the background, relaxing in a hammock with a Beer Lao at my side. Heaven!!
Everywhere in Laos is packed with Dutchmen. Six out of nine passengers are from Holland, to illustrate my point. Where Vietnam was completely owned and operated by Canadians, Laos seems to be the new Dutch colony. Vang Vieng proves to be the same. Or maybe, more accurately, a joint venture between Holland and Israel. Nowhere a sign of the usual UK domination, which is great. Dutchies, Israeli, Germans and a couple of Ozzies on the menu here.

Vang Vieng feels like home. Not home home as in Amsterdam, but it feels like how a home could be. All the comforts are there, television, computers, western foods. Cultural value 0, chillaxing-party-take-a-breath-awesomeness value: a 100. After seven months travelling, having to make countless decisions and experiencing new stuff every day, it's wonderful to be able to go on auto pilot for a while.

First swing on the tubing track, Vang Vieng, Laos
Get up at eleven, stumble to 'your' restaurant, lie flat out on the couches, raise half an arm and mouth 'pine-apple-juice-thanks' to the waiter and just relax. Most bars are broadcasting the TV serie Friends, some play cartoons as the Simpsons or Family Guy and other play movies all day long. I never really followed Friends as a serie, I always saw episodes as one offs. Occasionally I would watch them as I came by them, but I would never plan to watch Friends on TV. After a week in Vang Vieng though, I'm a Friends expert. PhD. Sensei. Grandmaster. Okay maybe I'm exagerating just a bit, but boy, did I see a lot of Friends episodes!

It's totally awesome though. Everyone is so relaxed in Vang Vieng, I have yet to meet a person who didn't have a good time there. Another important factor for that: tubing.

Tubes and swings at the last bar
Tubing, tubing, tubing, how I love thee. Tubing is probably the simplest activity where you can have so much fun. Tubing instructions:

  1. Gather your friends
  2. Hire a tube (a big rubber band)
  3. Drive upstream
  4. Float down the river in your tube
  5. Check into random bars along the river
  6. Have a great time! Use the swings and ropes, play music, drink beer, play games, sing, dance and laugh!

Let the guys reel you in, you buy beer, chill in the sun with the hottest babes, who also have beer, prove your manlyhood by jumping of insane bridges and jumps, swings and zips, drink another and move to the next bar. What a bliss. I miss tubing. Whoever invented tubing deserves the Nobel peace prize. It's absolutely brilliant, so much fun, yet so simple. One of the most fun activities on my trip. Don't miss out on tubing, Vang Vieng, and Laos in general. To quote Kanye West:

I think I died in an accident, 'cause this must be heaven!

andiboi says:
nice blog, your tubing adventure is really tempting... why o why did i miss Laos on my SEA trip ... :-) nice vids too.
Posted on: Aug 03, 2008
Ape says:
It certainly was haha.. It does sound worse than it was though ;)
Posted on: Jul 10, 2008
wanderingluster says:
hey mate, your right vang vieng was certainly one of the coolest places i visited. very, very, very chilled!
Posted on: Jul 10, 2008
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Speedboat from Houay Xai to Luang…
Laundry
Laundry
Does it get any better than this? …
Does it get any better than this?…
First swing on the tubing track, …
Tubes and swings at the last bar
Tubes and swings at the last bar
In the tube
In the tube
Nightmarket in Luang Prabang
Nightmarket in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Wat
Luang Prabang Wat
Drying in the sun
Drying in the sun
Laundry
Laundry
Mekong River
Mekong River
A glimpse of paradise
A glimpse of paradise
Ape at the Royal Palace
Ape at the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace museum
The Royal Palace museum
Ape at the Royal Wat
Ape at the Royal Wat
The Royal Wat
The Royal Wat
Happy birthday Diandra!!
Happy birthday Diandra!!
Minibus break down on the way to V…
Minibus break down on the way to …
Laos landscape
Laos landscape
Smiles by the bucket, partying in …
Smiles by the bucket, partying in…
Niv and Alex
Niv and Alex
Niv, Alex, Jacob Vang Vieng LaoCre…
Niv, Alex, Jacob Vang Vieng LaoCr…
Jacob, me, Niv
Jacob, me, Niv
Zohar
Zohar
Fo Flee!!
Fo Flee!!
Smile Bar parties
Smile Bar parties
At Smile Bar
At Smile Bar
Tammy and Jacob
Tammy and Jacob
Niv and Alex partyboys
Niv and Alex partyboys
Me and Niv
Me and Niv
Pieter, Jacob, me, Niv
Pieter, Jacob, me, Niv
Same same!
Same same!
Jacob and Sarah
Jacob and Sarah
Me and Cambodia mate Francis!
Me and Cambodia mate Francis!
Zohar, Alex, Pieter dancin the ni…
Zohar, Alex, Pieter dancin' the n…
Alex and the Bucket Bars party ca…
Alex and the Bucket Bar's party c…
Tubing starting point
Tubing starting point
Floating down the river
Floating down the river
First bar on the tubing track, inc…
First bar on the tubing track, in…
SWING!
SWING!
Will. Hurt.
Will. Hurt.
Chilling at a bar along the rivers…
Chilling at a bar along the river…
More swings
More swings
Under the influene of enough alcoh…
Under the influene of enough alco…
Party away XD
Party away XD
Tubing party madness
Tubing party madness
Partying at the before last bar
Partying at the before last bar
The last bar
The last bar
Tubes
Tubes
In the tube
In the tube
Vang Vieng
photo by: razorriome