Here’s my final set of photos from South East Asia from one of the more notable locations on our trip. Vang Vieng is Laos’ answer to Thailand’s Khaosan Road, except with smaller amounts of gimcrackery.
The focus is less on selling useless gifts and more on shovelling as many intoxicants into tourists as their bodies can safely handle, and perhaps slightly more. Subsequent to this, Vang Vieng’s inhabitants goad you into floating down a river in an inflatable tube. The riverbed is naturally carved from razor-sharp limestone, and is lined by bars which practically force you to drink more alcohol and use their rickety rope swings to leap tens of metres into the deep spots, which are few and far between. And you love every minute of it.
To give a rough idea of what to expect when you get to Vang Vieng, we arrived after a hideous 6 hour bus journey through pouring rain with dozens of fellow tourists. It was dark, cold, and our focus was to find a place to stay as soon as possible. We gladly coughed up for the (admittedly reasonably-priced) guest house into whose courtyard we had been tactically discharged from our foul-smelling transport. After setting up camp, we wandered down the street and checked a couple of bars for food options. We opened the menu of the first one we settled in, and the first page listed the local delicacies: mushrooms, weed and opium.
We didn’t partake, but we had acquired a flu bug somewhere during our border crossing into Laos and the rain that had been persistent since shortly after we arrived in Vientiane stuck around for the next two days, ensuring our first impressions of Vang Vieng were not particularly astounding (especially given the gastric results of that first bar meal; the next couple of days weren’t pretty).
Rain from a cafe in Vang Vieng
This shot was taken from a bar where we ate a few times. I can’t remember the name, but I do remember it having the best (read: spiciest) Tom Yum Gai (tomato, lemongrass, lime, chili and chicken soup) I had anywhere in South East Asia. Trust Laos to do it better than the Thais.