From Luang Probang we jumped in a mini bus and headed South. With Nick and Noel in a deep Ambien sleep Clark did his best to take some naps while sharing the front seat with a “big boned” German woman and hurtling down the mountain at break neck speeds. After 6 hours and a few stops for water buffalo, rice farmers, dogs and a series of head contusions from the window we arrived in the riverside town of Vang Vieng known for one thing, tubing.
Tubes in hand we arrived at a river loaded with bars, tubers, conjunctivitis and the most unsafe conditions for drinking one could imagine. We will try and do it justice … imagine a rather swift, muddy river lined with bars on both sides of a ½ mile stretch of river. Required activities at each bar include a zip line, a trapeze swing, a mud wrestling pit, and a water slide.
We heard from some other travelers in Luang Prabang that the mud was the leading source of conjunctivitis so we leveled our site on the trapeze swings and water slides. Luckily for us, the slides and swings are conveniently perched 10 – 15 meters above the river on rickety wooden platforms. Imagine climbing up a tree house ladder that was built by two 3 year old kids back in 5th grade. Now take that shoddy construction skill set and multiply it by about 10. Now, add a few thousand drunk, muddy, fearless people climbing up and down the structures ready to try their best Greg Luganis off a 15 meter swing. Needless to say there were more than a few casualties. On the positive side, there were trusty teenage Loations running the bars and ensuring everyone’s safety … so onto the platforms we climbed, grabbing hold of the swing and hurling ourselves down the slide into the water below. The more people drank, the more daring the tricks. In fact, we saw more face plants from 5 meters + in an hour period than we thought possible. (No pictures since we were floating down the river…)
Fortunately, Vang Vieng didn’t get the better of us. We left the next day a few sandals and shoes short but no Pink eye, no war wounds from the river rocks, no tetanus from the rusty nails or bruises from ruthless faceplants and belly flops.
Chill Zone: Medium