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14th to 16th September - Vang Vieng

So, 13 of us took a mini bus with 12 seats to Vang Vieng... We all got to know each other pretty well on that journey. Traditionally for this part of the world, it took us just over an hour and a half longer than expected to get to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang and the driver tried to con more money out of us en route.... Fortunately mob rule and raised voices won out in the end and he took us to the town centre for no extra cost.

That evening we headed out to fill our bellies. That's when we came across an amazing character called Mama Lao... She was hilarious and took a bit of a shine to me I think.... My fault for being my normal loud self. Mama Lau became a good contact in Vang Vieng for us and we spent many meals at her restaurant.

We enjoyed a hearty supper and headed to the Sunset Bar for a few beverages. It's an interesting place with a small bar staffed by Westerners and huts with hammocks in dotted around. We talked until the early hours and managed to find our way to bed around 2am it seemed. It was raining and navigating the west, puddle ridden mud paths was certainly an experience.

From Chiang Khong and Luang Prabang

From Chiang Khong and Luang Prabang

From Chiang Khong and Luang Prabang

On the 15th September, we all went tubing. Now for those not familiar with tubing, it's essentially travelling down a river using a tractor tyre inner tube as a vessel stopping at every bar you pass along the way. There's 15 bars in total... It was a little hectic.

We all got ourselves prepared for the unknown and headed to the first bar in good spirits. The river looked to have a fairly strong current to it and I have to admit to initially feeling a little nervous... We had a beer for dutch courage.... and a shot of some noxious liquid.. the sun had passed the yard arm after all...

Some of the guys immediately headed to the zip wire which seemed entirely to high for brave little me... I watched as some performed and others face planted their way into the river... There were collective groans and cheers from the river bank as brave warrior after brave warrior lived their fate... Pete, I hope you're feeling a little less winded my friend...

It was time to hit the water. It was surprisingly and thankfully warm. Not being the bravest in cool water, it took a little time to jump in but eventually I was in the convoy heading to the next bar. Another beer and some dancing later (as well as the obligatory shot) and we were off to the next bar. You have fleeting friendships when tubing. You chat to other groups and then see them at perhaps the next bar and not after that.

I finally made the decision to do the zip wire at the next place. Ok so it wasn't quite as high as at the first place but I still strolled up confidentally and headed on my merry way... I was nervous taking off from the platform but managed to do my self proud and avoid injury on my first attempt. It was great fun and I'm so glad I did it.

A few bars later and I was sliding into the water on a monster water slide. Then we got to the last bar... Now, there's a rule about tubing which is never to be the last at the bar you're in.... Guess what happened... oh yeah, muggins here was last man standing at the bar and all the tubes had disappeared. You pay a 4 or 5 pound deposit so I wanted to make sure I returned with the tube. That's dinner and two beers in these parts after all....

Emma fortunately said I could share her tube and we were going to see about stealing a tube back from some other poor soul. With the two of us on the tube I felt every undulation of the bottom of the river. It was quite shallow after all and I have bruising on my bum still from where I took a few hits in the shallower waters.

We got back to Vang Vieng and the Sunset Bar... People were there and tubes were in plain view. I'm not proud but grateful to say that we managed to sneak a tube out of there and I got my deposit back... Law of the jungle my friends...

That night was messy and the next day we all split up. Some of us went to the south of Laos and some to Vientiane... It was the end of a great few days with an excellent group of people and I'll never forget the times we had together.


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