The flooded bridge. Notice the upside down bomb as part of the bridge.
We had done a lot of trekking/mountain biking/kayaking and wanted to relax a few days. With traveling, you win some and you lose some. We lost in the town of Vang Vieng. It is a town that is legendary for its toobing/relaxed/drunken debauchery atmosphere. If I could ever clone my friend Mike Squires and set him out as a pioneer in order to settle and create his own Utopia - Vang Vieng would be it. The problem was that damn rain again! It flooded the Mekong so much that it nearly overtook the bridge, and flooded a number of hotels. An Irishman drowned a few days before we arrived from combining too much alcohol with an inner tube on the mighty Mekong.
It happens a few times a year, but due to the serious flooding, tubing was cancelled in Vang Vieng. Two days of sitting around and not doing much. 95% of Lao businesses close around the government curfew. A few somehow manage to stay open late night. Now despite Lao being much laid back and non-entrepreneurial compared to their South East Asian neighbors, I saw one of the strangest and most disturbing things I have ever seen on my travels in this town. Reid and I went to one of the few late night bars. It was a crowded/small place, with maybe about seven booths and a limited walking aisle/dance floor. People were all hanging out as usual, and as we looked around the bar, we noticed a bed in the corner with a Grandma and a few children sleeping in it as the party was going on. The Mother and one of the 11 year old daughters were serving as bar tenders, and as if the sleeping family in the corner or the bad British techno blasting wasn’t enough, we further discovered a 6 year old girl sleeping in one of the booths.
It looks pretty, too bad we could not tube on it.
Everybody just kept partying around the sleeping girl as if she did not exist. The connected bar seemed to serve as an opium den.Thirty European Harold and Kumars' sat vegetated out of their gourds watching football from the English premiership. We finished our $1 beerlao and left. In a country that seems so keen on keeping their culture and not selling out to tourists, I was not expecting that.
That family attempting to sleep in that bar is an omen - Lao will be gone in 10 years. Vang Vieng already feels like a mini Kao San Road of Bangkok. Hopefully the Octopus does not reach its tentacles out and suck in the surrounding cities.