. After walking around for a bit we settled into 3 single rooms at the Phoubane Guesthouse which sits riverside. On the first day we went tubing down the Nam Kong river beginning at around 1pm. They take you and about 7 other people about 3km upriver where you and your inner tube are dropped off at the riverside. You can float back in about 3-4 hours without stopping but I dare say that everyone stops to 'rest'in at least 1 of the 5 to 6 riverside bars. Most of them consist of little more than a bamboo deck, some benches, coolers for the Beer Lao and a bamboo platform from which you can jump off or swing off via a rope swing or zip line. 2 of the bars are quite large with 15 or so shaded bamboo sitting areas, massive rope swings, food, music, Beer Lao and zip lines. We meet a number of people who never even made it all the way downriver instead preferring to stay at the bars all day and then taking a tuk tuk back to town after the sun set. Being the responsible, motivated adults that we are we did make it all the way downriver though we did spend plenty of times at all but 1 or 2 of the bars. The scenery was absolutely spectacular with soaring, jungle covered, mist topped mountains running along one side of the river. In fact we liked tubing so much that we did it the first 3 days which I never expected to happen.
Well 2 months of relaxing finally hit rock bottom in Vang Vian, Laos where we spent 5 full days doing nothing but tubing down the river, going out, watching movies, eating and playing pool. The two Scots and I didn't even attempt to visit the caves which in addition to the activities mentioned previously are about all there is to do in Vang Vian. I had heard that Vang Vian was anything but a true Laos experience and yet I was still a bit surprised by an almost complete lack of any constructive activities. We arrived after a 6 hour mini bus ride from Luoang Prabang which took us up and over a beautiful mountain range and through a number of hill tribe villages. We arrived into Vang Vian at around 4pm when it must have been at least 90 degrees outside with little to no breeze. On top of that ALL the streets have been torn up leaving a grid of dusty, red clay streets which turned to mud every night with the regular evening rain showers. To be fair 'rain showers' is a total understatement as in regards to one night I have never seen it rain so hard in my life