Friday, January 27, 2012

In the tubing, Vang Vieng Laos

The town of Vang Vieng Laos has a toursim industry built almost solely on Tubing, which is to float down the Mekong river getting wasted. There is a lot more to Vang Vieng than just the tubing, a beautuiful landscape with plenty of explorable caves, mountains to trek, a few temples and the clear flowing Mekong running right through the town. All these attractions seem to take a back seat to the tubing though, and even the caves and natural landscapes all have an entrance fee and someone selling beer and food at the entrance.

Throughout our trip we have seen people all over Thailand wearing wife beaters and neon shorts saying "in the tubing vang vieng laos". We saw tons of them, usually a few a day. We had a lot of people either tell us to go to laos to tube, or when they found out we were going, asked if we went just to tube. People travel for hours and hours in buses just to go tubing. Now, this may sound like a good deal for the town, there's a lot of money in drunks, and for some it really is a decent way to make a living. The problem is that there is people everywhere acting like fools, and the town needs room to accommodate them, with sketchyily built bars and medeterrian style hotels popping up like weeds they are doing a good job keeping up.They even have a array of bars called "tv bars" where they play either friends of family guy to entertain hungover zombies as they eat "I'll be there for youuuuuu..." Plenty of tourists die every year by drowning (it was hard to get a concrete number but the recurring stat seemed to be one a week) while supremely messed up on a combination of the "happy shakes and pizzas" conataining a potent combination  of marijuana, magic mushrooms, opium, exctasy and who knows what else, maybe an opium joint just to be safe, all of which are available at an array of restaurants with copious amounts of cheap booze. Or they crash their scooter. As you can imagine all these people create a huge amount of waste, plastic bottles are the biggest cuplrite, though the town has honestly done a good job keeping itself clean. The other big issue is the noise polltuion, the bars in Vang Vieng play shitty club music, and they play it loud. The few bars right at the beginning of the tubing are the worst, and they also happen to be right beside The Organic Farm. This ruins what used to and should be a quiet and serene atmosphere just outside the city. The bars also have a passion for slides, rope swings, diving platforms and the like which I'm sure people must hurt themsleves on regularily. All this negative press almsot stopped us from going, alsmost. We figured we were there, and it'd be a shame to not experience it. With a large amount of guilt we set off with the other volunteers from the farm to float down the river. 

Like any good tubing experience we got more than we baragained for, our plan was to skip most of the bars and float right to the end of the line. It didn't happen, we ended up stopping multiple times, playing a few games of beer pong, sliding down a huge slide, and fooling around. As it got darker and colder we began to fear for our lives, Kelly's tube was flat, we were sobering up and there was still a few more kilometres to go. Luckily the tuktuk drivers plan ahead and have a pick up point right where we needed it. We hoped in thinking of warm food and dry clothes. Overall, we did end up having a great time (blush). 

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