We were woken by a tiny little pregnant lady one and a half hours earlier then expected. Apparently, the bus was going to be early. It sounded strange but we went along with it. We sat in the back of the truck feeling slightly shady from the previous evening, but felt comfort when we looked at our fellow passenger, Kevin, an Irishman who opted for the bowling the previous night, meaning he looked and felt a lot worse then we did.
We arrived at the bus station and soon realised that they couldn’t be bothered doing two trips from town, so the one person who was going to Vientiane bordered her van, while we waited for approximately one and a half hours longer. Go figure!
We previously stated that our van journey from Hsipaw to Mandalay in Myanmar was the scariest journey to date. It was now superseded. The driver stuck to the constant speed of what felt like 150km’s per hour the whole way – potholes, hills, overtaking, undertaking and bends included. To be honest, I only caught a glimpse of what was happening through the faces of Sarah, Kevin and a couple of other lads. Instead, I closed my eyes and fell asleep. I decided it would be best to die in my sleep having dreams, rather then screaming alive with my eyes open having nightmares.
About 100kms outside of Vang Veing the driver pulled over for a break. The now slightly green passengers piled out, only to be greeted with this bathroom.
We were unsure about heading to Veng Vieng to be honest. It seemed like something we would have enjoyed about ten years earlier. Now we are married at the age of 31, we clearly were the oldies of this well publicised party scene. Thankfully, in recent years, the government has cracked down on the level of partying, meaning it is now quite a relaxed town that allows you to chill out, or have some fun if you want to. We ran into Kevin again, decided to join a Kayaking tour the next day before sitting out on the river with a cold beer at the Smile Bar. The view was surprisingly beautiful, and peaceful.
We sat in silence as the first lot of tubers began floating towards us. Some in a worse state then others. A favourite was a very burnt Russian in a cowboy hat who missed the final stop and floated on by. He seemed to have no inclination to stop tubing, and we wonder where he eventually ended up.
If tubing is the main thing people do in Veng Vieng, then sitting down in a bar watch reruns of Friends at top volume, has to be the second. Still reeling from the van journey and ten pin bowling, we too were trapped by the Friends vortex. When Chandler and Monica finally got married, the entire bar got up and left.
The following morning we began a tour for cave tubing and kayaking. The tubing in the cave was, well, very busy and very poorly run, but it was nice to get out of the heat and into the water. The kayaking, however, was brilliant. The water wasn’t that high, but there was enough current to make it interesting, and the water fights amongst the alternate tours was childish and amusing. Halfway along, we stopped off at a bar called Mr Lao Lao. When we ordered three beers and were given an accompanying free shot of whiskey, we laughed. When Sarah ordered a water and she was given an accompanying shot of whacky, we were concerned. After a few games of beer pong, boules and basketball, it was time to go. With the acquaintance of a Man from Cork, we headed to the towns Irish Bar. We were to stay for a quick one, but as a torrential downpour began, we decided to stay.
It was our last day in Veng Vieng, so we had to give this tubing a go. With the help of an incredible chicken and bacon baguette, we grabbed our tube, paid our deposit. The deposit is returned to you once your tube is returned at 6pm, you got a percentage of your deposit back before 8pm and after that, you lost it all. We had the discussion that we would probably lose our deposit. We were given a lift to the first bar where we ordered a beer, that went down extremely slowly. It seemed to lack the great atmosphere of the bar yesterday, so we opted for a game of extremely intense Jenga. After one more drink we decided to jump in our tube and make it to the next bar.
A few hundred metres along the river was the next bar, where the kind workers, threw ropes to a group of us to tow us in. Of the ten or so people in our tubing group, seven of them floated on by, leaving only three people in the bar – Kevin, Sarah and myself. We looked out across the bar, noticing a very muddy and smelly volleyball court. We looked at each other and said “Nah no one would play in that.” Ten minutes later, we were part of a group of twenty people playing volleyball knee deep in mud. To watch, it would have been the worst game of volleyball every played, but to play, it was quite entertaining.
The rest of the day was a lot more enjoyable then we had previously thought. We anticipated hundreds of 18 year olds getting wasted, which tends to lead to chaos. Instead there was quite an array of ages who got wasted which led to chaos in the form of dancing, tubing and flaming limbo. It was great fun, even though we were definitely some of the oldest there as well as the only married couple, judging by the common reaction of – Wow, these guys are married!
We made it back to the Smile Bar at night with everyone pretty much intact, but missing another cap (#3 of the trip for those of you playing at home). We had a quick drink while young Belgian chap learnt about pub ettiquite, before taking our tubes back to the store. All of a sudden Kevin appeared to say it was 7:58pm and we still had time. He grabbed Sarah’s tube and we sprinted past the bars playing friends in, what we are guessing, was a record time. We woke the following morning with a very sore head, and 100% of our deposit. Thrifty.
Over another bacon and chicken baguette, we assessed our war wounds. Sarah had a egg on her head, we both had a hole in our feet, and after a surprise sneeze, it appeared I had cracked a rib. It was time to leave Veng Vieng. As we left, people we did not recognise said hello and goodbye. It must have been a good night.