Monday, 1 June 2009

Tubing in the Vang Vein

Ignoring the nonsense I am spewing at the start I think Pete in the above video does a pretty awesome job of explaining the whole tubing "thing", but here's my take an events...

All tubing really was, was a bar crawl down a river, but instead of walking between bars, you would float down the river on a rubber ring instead. Once you reached a bar one of the Loathian guys working at the bar would "save you" by throwing a rope out and pulling you to shore so that you could enjoy a swift half there and then get back in the river and float off down to the next bar. Each bar was remarkably well equipped in a very third world, make shift way. Everything was just made of wood or bamboo and all looked very D.I.Y. They all had pretty pumping sound systems too blasting out all the latest tunes. They all also had one or a collection of play things to attract people to their bar. For example the first bar had a 10 meter high rope swing, the next a zip line, the next a tug of war into a mud pit and the next a massive water slid. The whole things was crazy and nothing like this could exist anywhere in the western world simply down to the whole health and safety aspect of it all it was off its head! It is definitely worth doing though as it's so fun and such an experience, like nothing I have done before!

I managed to get 2 days tubing in while I was there with the first day being a lot more reserved and more of a practice run for the second day. Tommy, Pete and I were also joined by 2 other English lads during our time here, Pete and Ben who we had got the bus with us from Chiang Mai to here.

On the first day we didn't rock up till about 3pm and the party was well underway. We also didn't bother getting a tube on the first day and thought we would just walk between most of the bars and maybe swim between some where possible. Tommy and I were both recovering from recent spells of food poisoning so weren't really hitting it hard at all, just testing the water really, literally and figuratively. The worst idea of the whole day was to try swim in the river. It was mentally cold and I hadn't done any physical activity for months so was no up to the chalange at all. I went a little way down the river, more sort of walking on the river bed than anything and got out at the nearest possible location. We all agreed we would never do that again. We went down the river a bit more stopping off at a few of the bars and just getting a feel to see how we would go about things the next day.

Day 2 was a lot more serious, we got up early so that we could get ourselves sorted and be down by the river by midday. We went out to rent our tubes then jumped in a taxi for the ride up to the top of the river. We pretty much did exactly what we did the day before only this time got more involved and spent more time on the river. We went from bar to bar enjoying what each place had to offer. It was great fun. Unlike the day before were we had jumped in a taxi to take us back to town, this time we decided to float back home a long the river which would take about an hour. This was great and it was possibly the most chilled out I have ever been. I was drifting so slowly I had so much time to take in the surroundings it was superb. Unfortunately all good things come to and end and we eventually made it back to the town. However I did end up being pulled to shore by a boy who must have been no more than 6 years old. He and a few of his mates were swimming around in the water waiting for the odd tourist to appear. When they did they would swim out to you and drag you to shore and then want some payment for the privilege. Normally I can't be arsed to pay when they unexpectedly start offering their services for various things, but in this case the little man did such a good job of escorting back to shore I felt I had to give him a bit of money, so I gave the lucky bugger a pound and he headed back into the water to earn a bit more money to by sweets, or heroin one of the two.

Just like the full moon party there were no end of people with cuts, bandages and on crutches walking around the place who had once again succumb to the drunk antics that was tubing. There were jagged rocks everywhere along the shoreline which I hit my knees on several times. Luckily my carbon fiber like skin was too tough for the jagged rocks to inflict any damage on it but it was bloody painful. There were also loads of people walking around with pretty bad bruises from face planting and belly flopping into the water from the dizzy heights of some of the rope swings. Tommy being true to form almost died again when the bamboo wall he was sitting on gave way. Were it not for the way he was sitting with his hands on the bamboo, when the it had given way he was able to instantly grab on to it holding himself up. Had he not some how managed to do this he would have crashed into the rocks below, rolled into the river and then probably drifted off never to be seen again. So another lucky escape there for Hampson.

I also managed to injury myself eventually during a spot of tug of war. I was on the losing side of the tug of war and plummeted into the watery mud pit. Knees first I slid along the floor into the pit which for some ridiculous reason also had rocks in. My titanium coated skin could not protect me from this and I unfortunately gashed me knee open. I didn't think about it too much at the time but I probably could have got some water born disease or something from the water of that river going in my cut but, writing this a month down the line I seem to have got away with it and not caught scurvy, trench foot or scarlet fever which is nice. I did however milk it and try to make my gashed knee seem like some sort of battle wound telling whoever would listen, even if they hadn't noticed my pathetic cut "What this...? Did it tubing mate" in a very arrogant, aren't I cool manner. It was funny at the time.

The only down side to whole thing were the English Rah's that were all over the place. I don't really need to say much about these ex-public school wankers. But they were swanning around Rah'ing and just generally being very boring and cliquey. For example a very drunk 'Sebastian' came up to me and started tell me exactly how I needed to go about tubing while I was here, was not impressed, at all, and soon sent him off on his way. It could have been worse I guess but Rahs bore the hell out of me so being surrounded by so many off their heads was a nightmare.

Looking back Tubing was outstanding (just look at the photos!!), it went against everything my sensible nature would normally stop me from doing individually let alone all at once. Excessive alcohol consumption, rope swings, fast flowing rivers and swimming. It's a wonder more people don't die doing it haha.


  1. The second photo down is confusing me A LOT! It looks like whoever it is is simply floating in mid-air!?

  2. haha yeah you can't really see it but the dude has just jumped off one of the many rope swings that are dotted along the river. Im not sure if you can see the rope even if you zoom in... he isn't flying though haha