So, the next day, the fun was set aside long enough to visit the Thai consulate. The process there was much easier than I expected, considering the other headache-enducing experiences I’d had with Thai business. I just barely made the early bus to Vang Vieng!
Now, before I came to Laos, I had heard about Vang Vieng, but mostly my opinion was formed through this article:
Basically, the article talks about how this sleepy little town has been turned into a party spot by tourists. It became famous for its tubing– you rent an intertube, and then you tube down the river all day to visit various riverside bars. There was said to be a lot of drinking, a lot of flashing, and general debauchery. There was also a dark side, in that its pretty dangerous to go tubing drunk– and it’s a frequent occurrence for tourists to die. I was kind of struck by this article, and how it says that the locals used to revere the river but now they feel that it’s cursed, since so many young tourists have died in it. I felt really outraged to read about the destruction of this town’s way of life.
But then, when I actually got to Laos, I was persuaded that it wasn’t really like that, and that I should just go see the place for myself. So, out of curiosity’s sake, I ended up going.
I’d have to agree to disagree with the article– the touristy area is really restricted to a small part of the town. Walking out only less than a half an hour away from the main tourist strip, people looked at me in a way that would suggest they’d never seen a foreigner before. And also, it wasn’t as if the whole town was full of drunk idiots like the article suggested. They are all on the river, in a kind of secluded area where none of the locals really live.
I didn’t get to go tubing because I got there too late, but the tubing was only the beginning of the party. Towards dusk, people started to pour into the main town area to continue the good times. In my hostel, there were plenty of notes from past tourists advising me to “not do too many shrooms” or to visit so and so’s “happy pizza” shop. And plenty of shops with specialty shots– alcohol mixed with the drug of your choice mixed in. I just stuck to my Lao moonshine for now.
The place really did have a good vibe. Never have I been to a hostel and ended up getting 20 or more people in on a drinking game. Then, we headed down to a bucket bar– a bungalow on the river where they sell literal buckets full of mixed drinks. The alcohol is so bad that it costs less than the ice/juice, so the buckets are mostly just moonshine. Man people were drunk. They were falling all over the multi-level wooden planks that constituted our “dance floor”… I have a suspicion that the owners made it such a confusing place on purpose. And boy, was it a real meat market. I must have been hit on by 20 different guys.
The two best parts of the night were coming up– fire limbo and cheeseburgers. There was a fire limbo stick that you could try to go under. A lot of guys kept trying to impress girls by making it through, but then their shirts would get lit on fire. Haha. I tried it too but whenever I would pass a bit close to the fire I would involuntarily collapse away from it. It’s harder than it looks, not physically, but mentally. And secondly, there was a stall selling cheeseburgers– now I’m not sure if this was because I hadn’t had familiar food in a long time, or because I was wasted, or because these cheeseburgers were actually something special, but they tasted AMAAAZING!!!!! So I finished out the night by eating to my heart’s content while looking out onto the raging rapids, glad that I hadn’t bothered to go out there drunk on an intertube but had instead lived to eat this cheeseburger.