Tuesday, 28 September 2010

It's about time

I've been home ages now and still not anywhere near finishing this.

I have all my notes written up so expect posts to be coming soon.

(If you still care)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Vang Vein Pt.2

Despite practically the whole of everyday taken up by tubing I did also manage to fit in some other activities while I was in Vang Vein this time round. So I thought I would dedicate this post to the few things I got up to in Vang Vein that didn't involving inflated tractor inner tubes floating on the water.

I arrived in Vang Vein as usual a total mess. After a 20 odd hour, over night bus journey the way from Bangkok the only thing I really wanted to do was have a long shower, get out of my clothes and drop all my bags off that I had been lugging around from one bus to another. Unfortunately that was not happening as I had failed to let Alice know what time I was actually going to be arriving in Vang Vein so she had gone off tubing for the day meaning I had no where to drop my bags off, no where to have a shower and just no where to go.

If Alice had gone tubing which is what I had suspected there would be no way of contacting her till at least 6pm and it was now 12.30 so it was going to be long time till I would get to do any of the things I wanted to do as obviously without Alice I had no idea where I would be staying and obviously didn’t have the funds to get my own place even if it was just for one night. So I ended up spending the next 9 hours pottering around Vang Vein with no where to go. I was hungry so I got some food, watched some Family Guy in one of the restaurants and then went in an internet cafĂ© for a bit. That killed about an hour and half so now needed to work out what to do for the next god knows how long. I had got the bus all the way from Bangkok with a couple of lads from Melbourne who were over in Asia for a few weeks. I had managed to grab one of their numbers so I gave them and buzz and it turned out they were down at the river watching the sun go down getting a few beers in. I had nothing else to do so went along with all my gear to hang out with them down at the river.

It was now about 8 o’clock and I must have had been down at the river with Stu and Aiden for about 7 hours and still had not heard from Alice but thought she must have finished tubing now so set out once again in search of her. I checked my e-mails and had got a message to say she was had gone to Q-bar, one of the clubs/bars in the center of town. So excited thinking I would finally be able to drop all my stuff off I headed off to Q-Bar. I got to Q-Bar and guess who wasn’t there, Alice. So it’s now 9pm, nearly 8 hours after I had first got to Vang Vein and I still was walking around with no real idea where to go.

Then I get a phone call form Stu one of the Australian guys I had been down at the river with. I answered and guess who is on the other end only bloody Alice. Turned out Alice and Jade had been roaming the streets shouting my name and there calls had happened to be picked up by Stu and Aiden who then put them in touch with me. So 9 hours after originally getting to Vang Vein I had finally found Alice. Not only had I just found Alice but 5 minutes after I had found her but I bumped into another one of my friends from home Tamara who I had absolutely no idea was in Laos. Was crazy and a vey nice surprise!

The place we were staying was awesome, I can’t remember its name off the top of my head but it was a guesthouse perched on the side of the valley looking over the river and surrounded by mountains. It was possibly the most chilled out place I have ever stayed. There were a number of wooden shack rooms dotted either side of a dirt track. The majority of the rooms were surrounding a little court yard with tables, chairs and hammocks where you could just mong out and do nothing. The view was spectacular out over the valley with huge mountains in the background which were often covered in mist in the mornings. While I was there I just couldn’t get over how chilled out the staff where. I don’t know why but they almost seemed reluctant to ask for money off us for anything. They just seemed quite trusting in that we would just pay our tab off when we left. However we were in one of the rooms a bit further down the road from the reception so we could quite easily have just done a runner when we wanted to leave but obviously we didn’t, it was just nice to have this kind of set up without bonds or deposits for anything.

One major annoyance while we were there was that the locals were building a road right outside our guesthouse so every morning at the crack of dawn, if we hadn’t already been woken by either a dog or cockerel screaming their heads off we woken up by a huge roller flattening out the surface for the new road. I guess the road was one of the positive out comes from the Vang Vein for tubing as due to all the money being pumped into the local economy from it is allowing the locals to improve their town upgrading the dirt tracks all over town into proper concrete roads. How nice. It just meant that at the crack of dawn every morning the whole room would shake from the vibrations from the roller and the noise would be deafening, possibly the worst alarm clock imaginable.

One my first full day in Vang Vein Alice me and Jade as well as Alice’s and Jade new friend Merlin hired mopeds and went on a little adventure around Vang Vein. It was a right mission hiring scooters as pretty much all the peds had been already hired out for the day. The first one we were given didn’t even have a key to start, to get it started I would have had to rub two wires together so was not getting that one. After a bit of a struggle and walking around Vang Vein we eventually found a ped which could be started normally so made our way to see some caves.

There were 2 caves; one was called ‘The Amazing cave’ the other ‘The Big and Nice Cave’. We went to the bog and nice cave first as thought it was probably best to work our way up to the Amazing cave as it did sound Amazing. As the name suggests the cave was very big and nice. We were given a couple of little torches so we could get around the big cave and see the nice things it had in it, like rocks and weird bugs. After an exhilarating 20 minutes in the Big and Nice cave we thought we were ready for the Amazing Cave. As the name suggests it should have been Amazing, but it wasn’t, the Amazing cave was shite. It was just a long thin tunnel which was a struggle to negotiate in flip-flops. It felt like I was walking through the channel tunnel. So we got outa there and made our way back to the town center to get some food and generally just chill out for the rest of the day.

Tubing took up most of the days and normally started winding down about 6/7ish. So the nights were spent, when possible, recovering eating greasy food from the many restaurants or kicking back monging out in one of the bars by the river with shakes and a cheeky beer.

The rest of the time was spent sleeping, eating, enjoying the surrounding and recovering from tubing. I really like Vang Vein, it’s a vey interesting place and I really cannot imagine what the locals must think of all us guys stumbling around the place. I also still cannot work out which would have come first, was it Vang vein that started tubing or did tubing make Vang Vein. Either way it’s a strange little place in a beautiful place in northern Laos. I don’t think I will ever end up going back again but still I wouldn’t be against the idea if the option came up again.


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Tubing Round 2

Tubing is everything your Mum says you shouldn't do which is why it is possibly the most fun in the world ever. This was my second trip to Vang Vein in the space of a year (Read about my first trip HERE) so knew exactly what I getting myself into. This time round I was there for 5 days and by the time we left I had pretty much had enough. For those not familiar with tubing it is simply a load of bars along the Nam Song river River which all have various “rides” such as rope swings, zip lines and slides and to get to them you float down the river in an inflated tractor inner tube. Each bar is also bumping the latest chart toppers. However the list is only about 6 songs long so you end up hearing the same songs about 20 times a day.

It is absolute carnage, rather brainless but a huge amount of fun. Despite the gap between my 2 visits to Laos being only about 6 months apart there had been a huge amount of development along the river with not one bar being the same as before and also one of the bars actually being in the process of being made out of bricks and mortar instead of the wooden shacks like the rest of them.

There was a group of about 10 of us from our guesthouse that would spend the majority of our days and nights together. It was a great bunch made up of people from all over Europe. There was Alice Jade and me from UK, 3 Swedes, 1 German, 1 Norwegian, 1 from Switzerland and another guy from the UK who was the spitting image of Andy Peters (see for yourself in the photos).

The general gist of a days tubing was get up about midday. Go get a tube (or not) find a taxi to take a load of you up stream to the starting point about 15 minutes out of the center of Vang Vein. Then over the space of 6 or so hours slowly make your way between the bars till darkness falls. After that either get in a taxi or float down the river back to the center of the village hand in your tube have a shower, eat (or not) then hit the various bars along the river in the village till the AM. Then repeat this as many times as you want. I would see some people with Tally's written on their bodies, some saying 90 days tubing! I hope they were lying as however much fun it is, its not worth devoting 3 months of your life to, there are far better ways to spend your time in Asia.

I thought rather than write a load about what I got up to when I tubing thought I would just let the pictures to do the talking. All it was just 5 days of partying really.

p.s. Another couple of videos for you at the bottom


Looking back I have some great memories and spent my time there with a great bunch of people. It’s a shame it all came to an end but any longer and I doubt I would have lived to tell the tale.