Run the equator: Vang Vieng

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vang Vieng

The road to the river
Click photo to see slideshow
or here for all Vang Vieng pics

If you take Lonely Planet seriously you would think that Vang Vieng has graduated into the Major League of non-stop party scenes, right there with Bangkok's Khao San road, The Strip and Ibiza. The reality however, is not nearly as frightening as that. Sure, Vang Vieng has already become a fixture on the Laos backpacking circuit, a mandatory stop on the South-East Asia tourist trek, and for good reasons. Tubing (while drinking, optionally) down the Nam Song river is drawing a steady stream of enthusiastic, boisterous water-splashers; the more adventurous fill their day with adrenaline-loaded activities like caving, kayaking and rock-climbing; the scenery is breathtaking, the jagged karst mountains jutting out of the rice fields, dominating the landscape for miles.

Still peaceful

On the more decadent side, in what has become a trademark of the Vang Vieng experience, many restaurants play endless reruns of Friends on their street-side open patios, drunk falang in their bathing suits waddle their way in the middle of the street to the next bar, and the famous happy-shakes are more popular than ever. But the charm of the place has not yet been spoiled by unrestrained partying. In fact, I found the town rather quiet; there were few tourists around and no loud music was blaring from speakers at the bars. The vibe was peaceful... still. Perhaps the fact that all of Laos more-or-less shuts down at 11pm plays a role in that.

We didn't stay here too long, only enough to have a drink at a riverside restaurant admiring the magnificent sunset over the mountains and to do a bit of tubing the next day. Angela and our travel-friend Rahel did the tubing, I did the drinking...

Posted from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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