Cake or Death? (Cake = respect for your life)
Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
99Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
D Rose Cottages
We arrived on the outskirts of Vang Vieng and shared a tuk tuk van to the centre. Vang vieng is not a recommended place to visit. It is an area that has been built up due to the popular demand of tubing on the river. There are agents, internet cafes, happy pizza cafes, bars and loads of young half naked children running around. It's gross. Everywhere in Laos, there are signs saying no bikinis on show for women and men to not walk around shirtless. Of course the majority of loser tourists in this place do not respect local traditions, girls can't even be bothered to cover their ass! It makes me angry, but all I can do is continue to follow what I believe is right and true.
Oh also, the place happily serves pizzas and shakes with opium or mushrooms in. So, one understands why an Aussie kid died three weeks ago falling from a bar onto rocks! I was so unsure about coming here, I know Diana was skipping the area but I hoped that if we went tubing early enough, Dave and I could float down the river sober and stay away from these kids that are quite happy to risk their lives, and mainly due to peer pressure than wanting to actually have fun.
Oh no, more ranting!! So Dave and I were dropped in town and randomly bumped into Madison and Jacob. We agreed to meet for dinner. Luckily, I found a guesthouse that is away from the noise and is situated on a large camp site. There are individual wooden cottages that come with a mosquito net! Perfect! All for 4 Euro each! There was also a pool, so we took a dip, although the park was full of loads of Korean pre teens, who found it fascinating watching two very white ginger men act like babies entering a cold swimming pool.
We had a great night with Madison and Jacob. Every restaurant in the town serves the same food, they also have large plasma tvs either showing reruns of Friends or episodes of family guy. I started to notice most of the drunk children have written over their bodies in blue marker pen! I think I munched on a burger. Jacob bought a very cheap bottle of white whiskey that came in an old water bottle. It was pretty strong.
We all agreed to go tubing the next day around 11am.
With the cottage at D Rose was a large comfy king size bed wit proper sheets and a duvet. Just heaven to have a sleep, although my mind was on the Patriots game against the Ravens.
We met Madison and Jacob next morning, paid 60000 kip to hire the large tube and 55000 kip for the experience. We didn't bring much else. They other two brought a massive waterproof bag with water, lotion, camera, clothes etc.
A tuk tuk drives you out to the start, and you gingerly sit in your tube and start floating down the river. Well, you should float, at some points early on, my butt was either stuck on a rock or I simply couldn't find a strong enough current to sweep me down stream. So, in the dry season it take around 3 hours to float down stream, in the wet season, only one hour. Twenty two people died last year in the river. The problem is, there are bars for the first kilometer offering cheap drinks, whiskey buckets, shots and drugs. Most who stop don't finish the tubing and grab a tuk tuk back, not before their tube is stolen and they lose their 60000 kip deposit. Each bar is themed, either a zip line, rope swing, they try tempt you in, but I was genuinely more interested in floating down a river!!
It was also fun sharing the experience with two others, they had lots of fun and Madison took loads of pictures with her waterproof camera. I wasn't so keen getting my camera out of my waterproof bag, seeing as I'm often clumsy. We floated for about two hours, passed all the bars till we found a quiet one and we each sunk a large Lao beer. It was refreshingly cold though the Canadians had to join us under some shelter! It was great spending time with them and getting to know them better!
The route along the river is wonderfully natural and its just typical of the drunk idiots to miss the natural beauty of Laos and replace it with a bucket of drink and maybe death. Mountains, tree lines, family days out on the river, we even saw a pig get slaughtered yuck!!
After our drink, it took another couple of hours to slowly float down the river. The last bar is a Bob Marley bar, after that, there is a bar-less stretch of water for 3kms. Oh the way, I got chatting to a Scottish lady in her 40s. She works for RBS and for her length of service got some paid leave. She started in India so I picked her brain a little. With about 500 meters to go, young Laos children jump on your tube and help you get to the finish. I didn't mind, it was nice chatting to them but of course they wanted paying at the end, but for entertainment value, 75p was worth it. Sadly, the kid who pushed Dave in only got 15p as Dave had only a 2000 kip note on him.
We got showered and changed and met Madison and Jacob at their guesthouse on the river to enjoy a late lunch. We were all starving but couldn't find anywhere that served 'normal' food!
We chilled for a couple of hours and met them again later on at a Thai restaurant. We decided to go as a group to the party island. It was an interesting experience as most people that were there looked miserable. Dave and I shared a vodka bucket which came with a free tshirt!! We chatted for a hour or so but called it quits and headed off.
We saw them briefly the next day but then we had fun waiting for a late tuk tuk van to drive us to a bus that had sold twice as many tickets as seats. A bit of logistical tag teaming meant I put the bags under the bus and Dave boy grabbed two seats. It only took ten minutes for me to squeeze on to claim my saved seat!! From spending time in Latin America and Asia, you learn to be agressively assertive in queuing!
Right, sorry, I forgot, yes, we got burned!! The tops of our hands from splashing and random burn marks down my legs, patches I missed probably.
Next stop, the capital Vientiane.
Since we left Vang Vieng, we heard about another death on the river. The day we left, a young 19 year old Aussie guy went missing from his group of 5 other friends and was found Wednesday drowned. I feel so sad for the family, having to fly to Laos to claim the body. What you might not know is that Laos does not have a proper hospital facility in the area, if one is hurt one is driven to Thailand.