Wholesome Adventures in Vang Vieng
August 4-5, Vang Vieng, Laos
I booked a ticket to Vang Vieng, going only on the word of others that it was a worthwhile stop, without doing my research. After booking, THEN I researched, and was horrified to read that Vang Vieng has become a hedonistic retreat for people looking to get smashed or high.
While this may appeal a certain juvenile demographic, I travel like an old person. I generally prefer slow travel, quiet towns, natural surroundings, not much alcohol, if any, and early nights.
Finding like-minded sensible travelers
I was pleased to know that this place had other things to offer, and stopping here allowed me to meet some wonderful solo female travelers that I would be spending time with in Vang Vieng and later, Luang Prabang.
[Photo from Yasuko]
I met my Vang Vieng roommate and travelmate Yasuko on the bus from Vientiane to Vang Vieng (which I boarded after a long trip from Chiang Mai to the Thai-Laos border). And with her initiative, I found myself on a day long kayaking adventure the next day. Hurrah!
A day of kayaking and a bit of “tubing”
Some tour operators were suggesting kayaking vs. the more popular Vang Vieng activity of tubing (while constantly reminding us not to drink and swim — though some operators include free beer in their tour). We wound up getting a package that would combine a lot of pleasant activities together.
All photos from the activities were shot with my waterproof, shockproof Agfaphoto Explorer from Karlo. 🙂
First, we get ready to cross the river first to head to a cave.
For someone who is technically a first time kayaker, rowing across a river with a fast current is quite intimidating, but we make it. We then walk by a beautifully verdant rice paddy field and scenic landscapes.
We then proceeded to a cave where we would pull a string while riding a tube all the way to the end, let go, and let the current “push” you out of the cave. While this is not the “real” tubing experience of Vang Vieng, I was looking forward to kayaking more than tubing (also because 16 people died from tubing-related, or should I say, drinking or smoking-related incidents last year) because it really did seem to be a more promising, engaging activity, and I couldn’t wait to get started. 🙂
And with our single-serving friends from our tour group, we were off.
[Mike from Manchester and Melissa from New York]
[Marcy from New York]
[A Dutch family — I didn’t get their names, and they didn’t get mine either.]
[Yasuko and our guide]
It was a great experience, and I feel like I’ll want to go on more kayaking trips because of this. I’ve had some experience with white water rafting as well, but kayaking made me feel like I had more control of the fate of my kayak (along with a guide) vs. rowing in a raft with 5-6 other people.
Sober up, dumb shits.
You will pass the occasional drunk / high tourists on the street, and it really makes me feel bad for the locals because I’d be hard-pressed to believe that this is something they enjoy or something they’d like for their children to grow up accustomed to.
I do hope that these juvenile (mostly white student / fresh grad) tourists either sober up, or go muck up their own countries instead of spreading their crap and disrupting the peace in what is a beautiful idyllic town.
I’ve no pictures of the drunk, high or inappropriately dressed, but if you would like to see more pictures of the natural surroundings in Vang Vieng, see pics here.
Oh, and apparently there’s an organic mulberry farm we could have gone to, but didn’t. Only found out about it after we left. 😛
Languor in Laos,
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