J and I actually considered NOT going tubing on the Nam Song river after our Bucket o’fun night out in Vang Vieng. We actually tossed around ideas, between our two twin beds at the Orchid hotel, of staying in, having a massage, and nursing our hangovers. But no! We were in Vang Vieng, the town is FAMOUS for tubing, we had to go. So slowly over a couple of hours we got ourselves together and joined up with the five Brits and tuk-tuked it to the starting point, 4 km up river.
The river entry point had stairs and bars, bars and more bars. Each bar looked about the same: plank wood platform, large speakers and spinnin’ DJ pumping out thumping tunes, rope swings and free shots. We tubed about 10 meters on the blue-green water and got out at our first bar. The free shot was something called Tiger Whiskey. The only growl I heard was my stomach. J offered me some beer, but had no appetite for alcohol. There were not too many tubers out, but the vibe was all party. A group of girls came and wrote on the guys’ arms – free buckets at the Bucket Bar (the cause of all today’s problems). I refrained as my little voice in my head whispered “Tubing, drinking OK, markers on body, you’re just too old for that.”
In between tubing, we stopped at bars with free brown shots, free clear shots, free fries, and too many rope swings. Only David in our group did a zip line and careened and then jerked into the water. J and I shook our heads in ridiculousness – this place was all drunken party. Like Cancun when it was pretty, not a dirty used drinking destination.
I hoped the same thing would not happen to Vang Vieng, the scenery around this debauchery was dramatic and lush. Bluffs poked up to the sky and joined shoulders with other bluffs. Vertical forests grabbed onto the sides of the straight mountain walls covering the black and white striped rock with think green foliage.
After about four hours, Kate and I hit our own walls and just wanted the trip to be done and be replaced by a nice nap. The guys were still ready to hit more bars. Kate and I boarded our tubes and navigated the water. The water was calm in most parts and got a little fast in others. I looked for the V and tried to find the navigable water way with the least chance of butt-bumping rocks. It struck me sometimes that I was paddling so hard to get to the same spot that I would get to if I just let the current take me there. I would lose control, yes, but I would still get there with a lot less work. A nice little life lesson awareness there. Of course, I could it a rock and get stuck, but this wasn’t a grade 5 rapids – I would just scoogie myself off and get back in the current.
After 30 minutes of coasting and paddling, Katie and I saw a sign, “TUK TUK SERVICE” we happily handed over our tubes and got a ride back to town. I got a little nap in and then walked to town where I coincidentally me J and the Brits, wet and a little drunk. They forwent any drying off and relaxing in favor of dinner at a bar where Friends was playing on a loop. We ordered hamburgers and wolfed them down. I was done for the night, but J wavered on going out again as they had the free buckets to redeem with the markered coupon on their arms. There were a lot of laughs and we said good night and good bye to our new friends. Safe travels!
The next morning J and I parted – he back to Bangkok via a number of bus rides and cities and finally a flight and me on an eight hour bus ride up to Luang Prabang, world heritage city of Laos.