Well, it’s safe to say Vang Vieng definitely lived up to its reputation as being a party places! We Spent 4 Nights here and for 3 of them went out. However, before we got to Vang Vieng we had to make the 5-hour journey south from Luang Prabang, this was an experience in itself as Laos roads are bloody terrible (never complaining about potholes in England ever again). We also went some crazy route and not via the expected motorway. However, the route did offer some fantastic views even if the ride wasn’t comfortable. We headed over a mountain range up to an altitude of 6000ft and the views were spectacular. We stopped at a rest stop up in the clouds, quite literally. After the pit stop the bumpy ride continued onto Vang Vieng, as well as having to deal with numerous potholes, the driver had to avoid wandering dogs, cows and even a warthog. Still, 5 hours after setting off we made it to our destination. We were staying at Nana’s hostel which as advertised was certainly a party hostel, but we were up for letting off some steam and by party hostel, I mean there was free whiskey from the bar between 6 – 9 pm. However, even if that wasn’t the case a bottle of Lao whiskey only sets you back 10,000 kip (£1). We settled into our room, got changed into our swimsuits and jumped into the pool to refresh after our journey. We also got a round of beer Lao in for added refreshments. Additionally, the girls from Manchester who we met in Chiang Mai were staying at the hostel for their final night when we arrived, so we sat around the pool catching up, chilling in the sun and dipping into the pool. The day continued much the same with more Beer Lao consumed. Before we headed out for dinner and a few more drinks at a bar before retiring back to bed.
The following day after saying goodbye to the Manchester girls once again, we headed to one of the blue lagoons in the area. There are 5 different blue lagoons around Vang Vieng, we therefore headed to number 3 which was supposedly one of the better ones. We went here as a 4 but also brought along our Malaysian friend Joe, who we met in Luang Prabang and was also staying at Nana’s hostel. The journey to the blue lagoon was by Tuk Tuk again, although people had recommended that we hire dirt buggy things due to the roads being so poor. We decided against it due to the price, but people’s recommendations weren’t wrong, the roads were atrocious. The 40-minute Tuk Tuk ride was probably the bumpiest journey of my entire life. It was certainly quite the experience with us even hitting the roof of the Tuk Tuk on numerous occasion. I still have no idea how these Tuk Tuk’s manage to survive after countless journeys down the roads. The driver even had to top up the engine coolant system from a nearby river on the way. Madness! Once again although the journey was horrible the scenery was amazing, looming cliffs, rice fields, water buffalo and cows. When we arrived at the blue lagoon it wasn’t quite what we were expecting. It appeared to be pretty man-made and not natural. However, it was still lots of fun. There were various zip lines and platforms where you could jump into the water, so we spent the afternoon mucking around jumping into the lagoon from the various platforms and stuff, trying to outdo each other’s attempted entry into the water. Once all swum out we had a bite to eat before heading back via the Tuk Tuk which none of us was looking forward to in the slightest. We did try to find a viewpoint that was signposted by the lagoon, but we failed to do so. The ride home was once again horrible, there was even a point when driving up a steep hill that we got stuck, meaning Fred and I had to jump out the back and push the Tuk Tuk up the hill. I think without our intervention we would still be stuck there, or the Tuk Tuk would have probably blown up by now.
That night we headed out for another night on the town, well Connor, Fred, Joe and I, Ollie had a bit of an upset stomach so didn’t make it out (therefore Ollie is now Gary) We had a very fun night out and got talking to loads of people who were also going to do the tubing down the river with us the following day. I probably had one too many, based on the video I found of myself on my Instagram the next day, but we all awoke feeling pretty fresh after the night out. It wasn’t that much of a late one but was fun none the less.
The morning after the night before we got up and had some breakfast, I also had a watermelon fruit smoothie, which I have now decided is the best hangover cure ever. The Tubing wasn’t until 12 pm and Ollie was still unsure as to whether he was going to make it. For those of you wondering what this whole tubing thing is, basically it’s like a lazy river at one of the waterparks you may have been to, whereby you all sit in inflatable rings and travel down a river with one another. The only difference comes in the form that you stop off at several bars along the way. 12 O’clock rolled around and Ollie had established he was fit enough to go, there were around 30 people in total maybe more on today’s tubing trip. We certainly picked the best day for it as not only was it the busiest that we saw the trip, the weather was also probably the best too (they run the trip from the hostel every day). We all jumped into a few pickup truck things and were driven the short 15 minutes to the river. Once here we jumped in our rubber ring tubes (officially car tire inner tubes) and set off down the river. The first bar was already in sight from the set off location. After the short 5-minute tube down the river, we arrived at the first bar and that’s where we stayed for the next 2 hours or so. By bar, I mean floating wooden pontoon with a bar at one end and then a diving platform at the other. There was also lots of insects such as spiders and cockroaches roaming around which many of the bars human guest weren’t so keen on. At the bar the music was pumping, and everyone was having a great time, I must add Connor ended up being the DJ and he did a splendid job haha! We played a few drinking games such as flip cup and partied away for the next few hours. I also made it my mission to stick a sticker from the beer Lao bottles onto every who was at the tubing. I reckon I succeeded in sticking a Beer Lao sticker to around half the people who were tubing that day, so I consider that a success. I was even offered a job by the tubing company haha, I politely declined. After being at the first bar for several hours we all hoped back into our tire tubes and floated for a further hour down the river to the next bar. The journey was great with many people all linking up in some way, by grabbing someone’s foot or arm and floating as a unit down the river. We sang songs along the way and simply enjoyed such a unique experience. We then arrived at the next bar where the party continued. Here there was a volleyball court and a zip line into the river, I mean probably not the best idea for a load of drunk people, but everyone made it back safely and there were lifeguard people looking out so at least a little safety. As night fell there was even a fire limbo competition which Ollie did pretty well in. After more hours partying away at the bar, mini vans arrived around 7/8 pm to take us back to Nana’s hostel. Here the party continued once more with everyone jumping into the swimming pool and further enjoying themselves. Come around 11 pm me and Ollie were done and headed to bed. Fred and Connor, on the other hand, carried on the party somehow till around 3 am at the jungle party that was happening. All in all, it was such a great and unique experience, certainly something you would never be able to do in England. Admittedly I’m sure my mother will think that it’s probably a dangerous thing to do tubing down a river and stuff while drunk, but everyone looked out for each other and at the end of the day everyone had a great time and there were no incidents.
Its safe to say the following day, our last one in Vang Vieng, after 3 nights of partying we done absolutely nothing and simply ate food and chilled out in the hostel. We are human after all. We did, however, make it out very fittingly to a place called Gary’s Irish Pub where we watched a bit of football on the TV and ate some home comfort food. I had English imported sausages and mash which was simply amazing. After our very boring and chilled day, we awoke on Sunday the 9th of December to make our way from Vang Vieng to Vientiane. Frankly, we had a thoroughly good time in Vang Vieng partying, but we are certainly done with alcohol for a little while, having a detox now until we reach Vietnam. The bus ride from Vang Vieng to Vientiane was once again in a minivan on terrible roads. The journey time was much the same as from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. However, the views weren’t so remarkable this time, the backdrop was still pleasant, however. As we neared the capital of Laos the road conditions did improve slightly but still weren’t amazing. We had been warned that there wasn’t much to do in Vientiane, but after a hectic previous few days, I think we were all looking forward to some time spent not doing a lot. We arrived Sunday afternoon and once again just spent the day chilling at the hostel playing pool and watching films and stuff on Netflix. We did head to the night market for dinner and a look around. The lads brought some sunglasses and I managed to pick up a pair of fake Adidas short for a quid. We then headed back to the hostel for another early night.
On Monday we awoke in Vientiane and headed to the gym. We are trying to stay relatively healthy and in shape, plus it helps that Fred also has a master’s in strength and conditioning to whip us all into shape. The gym was fantastic, it was so rustic and old school and split over about 4 different rooms but the equipment although a little old was great. I have, however, never perspired so much in my life seeing as it was basically open to the elements and had no A.C. I’m also pretty sure the owner of the gym or someone who worked out there had been crowned Mr Laos 2015 based on the trophies on the wall. After the gym we had some lunch then headed out to explore a bit more of the capital. We took a Tuk Tuk ride with some friends from the hostel (Joe was with us again) to the Buddha park which was about a 35-minute drive away. Now if I’m honest it really was nothing special but a place to kill about 30 minutes. We were then supposed to head back via the Beer Lao brewery where you could supposedly get a tour of the complex. However, on arrival, we found out we were too late, which we were all gutted about as we were looking forward to it. Instead, we headed back to the hostel and played pool for the rest of the night.
The following day now Tuesday the 11th of December we were all due to leave Laos but were doing so in separate ways. All 4 of us were heading to Hanoi, Vietnam where we shall be spending the next month, this required a pre-arranged visa, but we did, in fact, sort this in Vang Vieng. However, I had opted to fly from Vientiane to Hanoi (flight time of 45 minutes, cost of £85) the rest of the lads opted to take a bus (journey time of 24 hours, cost of £22). More on each of our journeys and time in Hanoi in the next blog post. Overall our time in Laos has been relatively short compared to other countries, around 12 days, but all in all its been good. I feel like Laos did have more to offer us and we may have missed some key places to go, but I won’t lose sleep over it. The scenery in Laos has also been stunning and the landscape of the country itself is beautiful. The major let down for Laos, however, is the state of the roads and how long it takes to get from one place to the next. Probably the reason as to why we didn’t explore a little more. Either way, thanks for hosting us Laos it was a pleasure. We are all now looking forward to spending the next month in Vietnam where we shall be spending Christmas and New Year’s. Hopefully, we can finally start getting in the holiday spirit at last.