The drive from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng was 8 hours long. To be honest it was grand, a lot better than I was expecting as someone who can get a bit travel sick. We all popped some anti-sickness pills and slept a lot of the way, only stopping for Oreo and Pringle top ups - the essentials of course. We did however stop at a beautiful mountain restaurant for an included lunch that boasted beautiful views of the Laos countryside. It's here where I decided Laos was my favourite country- premature maybe, but I wasn't wrong. It also boasted the best Squat toilet's I've ever used - didn't think I'd ever write that sentence! You walked in and you were greeted with a mountain view where a wall should of been. There was just mountains in the distance so you could pee in private! Crazy, yes, but that's just Asia.
After being adequately fed, we got back on the bus for one last nap before reaching our destination- Vang Vieng. Vang Vieng is a quaint spot. It's a quiet enough town, and the footpaths are so dodgy, so we all just walked on the road. It made famous or should I say infamous, by Tubing. Which is basically when you get into a tube and float down the Mekong,where the Bar tenders would throw you a rope and bring you in to their fine establishment. A few years ago in 2011 it was actually voted the most dangerous place for backpackers in the entire world, after there being nearly 30 deaths in one year. Since then most of the bars along the river have closed down, however three are still up and running! After witnessing it, I can honestly say tubing down the Mekong river is dangerous, and to put it bluntly
fucking stupid. If you value your life at all, don't jump into a rubber ring and join the crowd of fools sailing down the Mekong. Each bar is as grim as the next as well, Not to say it's not good craic when you're with good company! As well all had a blast, but man you'd want to watch yourself - and your friends!
Anyway we arrived to Vang Vieng late in the afternoon and had some "free time" Now what I will say with Contiki especially the Big Indochina Adventure you're not left with much "free time" Now of course there are optional activities but mostly the entire group do, as they're pretty good excursions. On Contiki you can definitely choose to skip things as there's no pressure to do anything,but doing all the Optional Extra's I found I'd very little time to chill - but hey I can sleep when I'm dead! In the evening we all went out for a bite to eat at Kangaroo Sunset Bar. Another chilled backpacker bar. The food honestly is just grand, I've had worse, and I've had better but it filled a gap and it was then onto the more important part- the drink! If you want to get drunk off one drink in Vang Vieng head to Kangaroo Sunset bar. We had a cute friendship ceremony where we were all blessed by a village elder there too, so it's a pretty cool place! They had promotions on the whole night and in honor of Australia Day, which happened to be the next day. If you bought the "Kangaroo Sunset" cocktail which tasted like moonshine, you got a free Singlet. Running out of clean clothes was enough to pull this sucker in. The cocktail was horrendously strong, but hey It helped me dance like Beyonce, so it was obviously worth it.
Up early enough the next day, but not too early thank God! (Yay for non 4am starts) Most of us opted for the Tubing excursion as well as Kayaking. The Tubing was in a dark cave, and you just followed the rope around it. Nothing ground breaking exciting but it was still fun nonetheless, would I do it again? probably not but we had time to relax in the sun for awhile and that's always a positive! After Tubing we took a Kayak down the Mekong back to our hotel, which took us a little over an hour. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we were surrounded by the beautiful Laos scenery so it was perfect. Being the group we were, we all got a bit competitive with people being splashed and boats threatened to being capsized! Word of warning though, don't under any circumstance drink the Mekong water, and keep your mouth sealed shut when you're splashing about. One of the guys on tour had a beer on-board the Kayak, and the water accidentally got into it, and he was really ill the next day, the poor thing! It's not fun when you're ill and you have a long enough bus journey the next day!
After the Kayaking we were all tired and had some downtime before all donning our free Australia Day merchandise and painting our faces yellow and green to celebrate Australia Day, as most of the tour was from Australia- or 'Straya! Back to Kangaroo Sunset for some more food, the time it gave me a dodgy stomach! Now I had recently gotten my gallbladder removed so I'm not too sure if it was that or the change of diet, but I definitely felt a little bit funny! Anyway it was nothing too severe. After a bite to eat we hopped into some vans and made out to the infamous river bars where we got a small boat across to the bar for obvious reasons. We arrived there and we all just stuck together after getting some drinks, Everyone was inebriated. It reminded of the time I went to Crete with all my girlfriends after finishing Secondary School to drink cheap drinks for 7 days. Back then it was the crazy and very exciting.The drink was forever cheap and flowing freely and you didn't have any concept of limits when it came to drinking. Fast forward 7 years however and it was a bit grim, that's just my opinion however. I swear I think my heart dropped on several occasions watching kid, after kid ping head first into the shallow river. That's not to say it wasn't just 18 year old jumping in, grown men were practically belly flopping into the water - funny to watch, but not funny when you realise how shallow the water is
Now of course I understand a lot of these guys were on their "Gap Yah" so they're 18/19 and like me in Crete it's the first taste of freedom away from a family holiday, so you need to keep them some slack, but man knowing what I know now, no kid of mine is ever going to Vang Vieng - I kid, I kid. I'll go with them! I'll turn into my stalker Mother - Hey Mom! Anyway we made it to two bars and then we all had enough and went back to Kangaroo sunset where we all got some more drinks and danced! I ordered a cocktail that sounded quite fruity, but it ended up being 99.99% vodka and a dash of 7up! Needless to say the rest of the night is quite foggy! I do remember going home, having a shower and going back out. It was probably to save time in the morning, as I'm the worst morning person in the world! I don't know, but like all drunk idea's it seemed like a good idea at the time! We were up early the next day, I avoided breakfast as my stomach was a little tender from the night before, and just made myself comfortable on the coach, beside my Kansas buddy Wade, who kindly kept the bus filled with snacks- I choose my friends wisely!
Until next time...