I continued through the mountains on an early morning bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. Try saying that without your teeth in! The journey can defiantly be described as having a bit of a view. By lunchtime the bus arrived in Vang Vieng. Anyone who’s been to Laos in recent year will have almost certainly been here. It’s gained a somewhat notorious reputation for the activity of river tubing. During the early 2000’s a whole tourism industry was established around tubing. Numerous riverside bars appeared (I’ve heard anything up to 100 at the peak) where revellers would stop off while tubing along the river. The partying eventually got out of hand. Hardcore drinking, along with the consumption of nefarious substances, aren’t a great combination with water and rocks. During 2011, 27 tourists were killed while tubing in the area. This prompted a clampdown by the authorities. Nowadays you can still go tubing but it’s far more sedate with only about four or five bars left. Providing you don’t get too carried away it looks like a really good thing to, passing through a beautiful landscape while floating downstream. I was supposed to be meeting some people from the Mekong slow boat to go tubing tomorrow. Unfortunately a late forced itinerary change  (I’ll explain it tomorrow) took place meaning that I had to instead head to Vientiane tomorrow.

While it was disappointing to miss tubing, I certainly wasn’t doing it this afternoon on my own. As well as potential safety issues of being alone, there’s just something inherently pitiful about a thirty-odd year-old floating down a river with a beer, on his Todd! Instead I went swimming to the nearby Blue Lagoon. The short tuk tuk ride there was absolutely stunning, passing through farmland surrounded by huge rocky hills. In the car park I had my first selfie request for a while, as usual from a middle-age man! There’s usually some other tourists to latch onto at these sort of places and I duly found some good lads from Bristol. As with yesterday’s waterfalls the location was serene and the water nice and refreshing. A bloke who possessed an impressive skill of disappearing under water before appearing with a fish caught with his bare hands seem to be getting a lot of attention from passers-by on the bridge.

By all accounts Vang Vieng is a lot more quiet than its heyday of the late 2000’s but there’s still a decent backpacker scene. The town was the setting for a South Korean reality show and now attracts many young visitors from there. During the day lots of people seem to hang around cafes and bars, lying on cushions or hammocks. Famously there used to be constant reruns shown of the archetypal mediocre television show, Friends. Fortunately I didn’t notice any today. There are also a couple of establishments where the pizzas contain mushrooms that you can’t get in Tesco or where the cakes contain some added ingredients. All this seems fairly open. In a country where illicit drug use appears to be frowned upon I’d image that there could be some sort of criminal enterprise operating here. Nightlife in Vang Vieng seems decent and the Sakura Bar was still rocking when I called it a night at 1am.

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Amazing countryside (photo credit iamolayvanh via Instagram)
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Blue Lagoon (photo credit peer_gm via Instagram)

 

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Riverside nightlife (photo credit alexarcraft23 via Instagram)

NB
I managed to lose my camera in Laos and unfortunately hadn’t backed up any photos for a week or so. Therefore I’ve borrowed some photos from Instagram of pictures taken as close as possible to when I was in a location. I did consider asking permission to use these photos but communicating with around 50 people would have got complicated. I’ve credited all of the photos used and in some occasions cropped them to maintain a matching size ratio. If by chance anyone whose photo is used finds this blog and would like me to remove the photo please let me know and I apologise in advance.

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