the slow seduction of the backpacking cliche

Vang Vieng viewsI can’t help but love Vang Vieng depsite the fact that it is one big backpacking cliche from the ‘happy’ pizzas, internet cafes, bars showing friends episodes and bonfire parties on the island. It is, however, stunning beautiful, a shallow swift flowing river runs through the town in front of a backdrop of huge limestone hills, bamboo bungalows and palm trees, at sunset the setting rays twinkle over the ripples as the river flows beneath a series of rickety wooden bridges and local kids play around in the shallows. we’ve also run into a bizarre number of people here, because everyone tends to travel the same way through Laos you run into people from your slow boat trip, or from Luang Prabang, and it’s actually quite nice to bump into everyone along the way!

Tubing in Vang ViengAlso in Vang Vieng there is a lot of going out, drinking bucket cocktails with Lao whisky and partying around fires in the bars on the island in the lake. Me on the tubing day, Vang ViengThen yesterday James, Bronnie, our new Aussie sidekick, and I all went tubing which is the thing to do in Vang Vieng. We got dropped off north of town with our rubber tubes and set off drifting down the river. We hadn’t got 50 metres when we got pulled in to the first riverside bar. Then a group of guys with Spider Bar written on their chest virtually kidnapped us into the next one…well what could we do? In total the two hour trip took us seven hours to do and the sun had set by the time we washed up on the banks of town. There may have been a significant amount of drinking stops going on but it was so much fun! Let’s just say my dry weeks of alcohol freedom in North India are long since passed! Today however, after a relatively chilled evening in the sunset bar with some friends last night which ended about 4am, I am feeling slightly worse for the wear. Am I getting to old for all of this?

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