Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
Trip End Aug 06, 2009

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vang Vieng - Tubing capital of the world.  Apparently this is the thing to do in Laos, and it took us until this point to finally run into other buckeyes...3 of them no less!  We took the VIP bus, A/C with lunch for the 5 hour journey up and down mountain roads ,absolutely stunning scenery but not so good on the stomach.  Our lonely planet guide (which is 3 years old) warned us of the many cafes that continuously play episodes of "Friends" and when we arrived, sure enough still playing the show and also episodes of "Family Guy'.  We followed some Dutch people from the bus onto a tuk tuk and to a guesthouse, the owners probaby related to the driver.  It actually turned out to be a really nice place so we all stayed. 

We began our covert operation in obtaining a kiddie tube, advice given by others mainly because it is markedly cheaper.  To aquire said tube, you must attract no attention to yourself and secretly get directions to the shop that hordes them.  Once the shop was found, we quietly asked the vendor if she had the contraband.  She gave us a silent nod and waited for the local patron to vacate before going into the back room and pulling two neon kiddie tubes from a black plastic trash bag.  Operation terminated. 

Then our tubing adventure began, absolute madness, hundreds of drunken backpackers all along the river, we were not entirely sure what to expect.  Basically, everyone starts out at one bar then they all leave at the same time and tube to the next bar. Someone tosses you a tube "life raft" and pull you into the next bar as the current was quite strong.  We hung out with the Dutchies Arnie and Judy and their Irish friends.  We were told that nobody makes it all the way down the river, missing out on stellar views.  Each bar had a massive swing or zipline into the river, we all had a go.  The 3rd bar we visited had a massive mud pit to play tug-of-war.  By the time we got to the fourth bar it was getting dark and that was the end of tubing but not before Davis' tube got stuck on a post trying to get out.  We all had to pile into a tuk-tuk to take us back into town and all the tubers meet-up at Q-bar.  I was absolutely gutted that we did not have time for another go on the river.  Also, I missed a great photo-op of their barber shop; it was straight out of Sweeney Todd, it was merely an open concrete walled room with graffiti and a single ominous red barber chair. 
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