On the tube in Van Vieng
29.08.2009 - 01.09.2009 25 °C
Well saw what you want about Vang Vieng and many people do but you will have a good time tubing on the river. Many people complain that the town has lost its soul and is nothing more than a backpacker party town full of western travellers intent on getting drunk and high. There is a certain truth to this and as you walk down the main street all you see is backpackers laid out in TV bars watching endless repeats of Friends and Family Guy recovering from an epic day of drinking an debauchery while tubing on the river. But hey what's not to like about debauchery!
The main claim to fame for Vang Vieng is the practice of tubing down the adjacent Nam Song river. It's now become a rite of passage on the Indochina backpacker circuit and it's a lot of fun. Essentially you throw yourself into a large tractor inner tire tube and floating down the river. As you float down the river you are dragged in by various bars where you start drinking obscene strong cocktail buckets. This bars all have a few extra amenities such as rope swings that catapult you into the river, large slides into the river, mud pits and water/mud volley ball. This all pales in insignificant to the primary purpose of drinking and partying. It really is good fun and dangerously addictive. I really had to force myself to leave town lest I end up staying in that time warp of a town too long. I have a mate working there and so I went drinking on the river with him and the other bar workers. These 'pros' (one guy has been on the river for 222 consecutive days – his liver must be a medical miracle and the focal point of many a medical case study) knew all the best spots and we ended up tubing back into town at about 10:30 at night in the darkness about 5 hours after the rest of the revellers had returned to town.
There are lots of other activities to partake of in the surrounding. I spent one day exploring the local caves and kayaking over some pretty good rapids. The caving was an excellent experience and one I thoroughly enjoyed – that said I was a very relieved man to see the sunlight again. I spent about 2 hours delving about 3km into this mountain caves. At times I was neck deep in water and only barely had enough room for my head as I pass through flooded underground passages. There were often time that I had to shimmy through several metres of a tunnel that only served to illustrate to me I need to lose some weight. It certainly wasn't an experience for the claustrophobic!