There are lessons to learn on our travels and no matter how much travel experience we have, we are always prone to make mistakes. So here is where travel went badly wrong for me, and I’m warning you to be careful too! I’m not proud of my horrendous time in the wonderful town of Vang Vieng! Things all went wrong for in Vang Vieng and for this reason my memories of Laos are rather negative and jaded, apart from the fact that I was there with a top mate of mine. I’m not going to tell you how to go tubing, I’m going to tell you my story and how NOT to go tubing in Vang Vieng Laos…
Vang Vieng is a party town so head there, meet new friends and party the night away without a care in the world. Just be aware that you are going tubing the next day and you want to be in a fit and able state for that!
I woke up, moved hostels and got ready for the day of tubing that lay ahead. It was some experience being in Vang Vieng to start with. Great town. We arrived at the first bar for tubing.
What followed was just an awesome few hours. I met tons of new people and we were having fun, “tubing” but hold on…we weren’t really tubing yet. We had played mud volleyball, danced away and thrown frisbees at cans. It was time to go tubing. You might have heard that “tubing” is really just drinking, and that proved to be the case. You will spend more time in the bars than on the tubes.
Before starting the tubing I bought one of those tubing waterproof bags. Big mistake by the way – they are not safe or secure in any way. I shouldn’t have bought one and I shouldn’t have brought it with me. After getting in my tube at the second bar, I struggled in the fast waters and didn’t make it over to the next bar. In amidst the struggle I lost my wallet and camera and my green waterproof bag in the madness of it all. It was gone forever.
When the waterproof bag headed deep into the Nam Song river, it took with it my wallet, my cards and my camera. It was a disaster. I made it to the next bar to meet my mate Chaz but I was down and out with no money or anything.
My mate Chaz bought me a drink in that next bar as did an Irish girl and then I drank water, grasping a pair of flip flops and my travelling Northern Ireland flag. It was odd to me.
Later on it was obvious that I also had an ear infection from the swimming in the Nam Song river. The only good thing was my passport was back at the hostel and that I was healthy and safe!
After the third bar and with no money or anything, I walked along looking in vain for a clue as to where my wallet had gone. I was in the middle of nowhere and it was getting dark.
A local Laos girl called Micky runs over to me and asks what the problem is. “I have nothing left here – any chance of a lift back to Vang Vieng?” I said and the heroine that she was she headed over to a remote garage, pulled out a scooter, told her friends she was giving me a lift and on the back of the scooter I went, flying through the rainy, wet, drizzly Laos countryside wondering what the hell I had done today. I wanted to give up travel in an instant. That was it – I was done with travel. I didn’t even have any money now – to pay the hostel or to get out of Vang Vieng. A popular Norwegian, Arnie’s Hostel Nam Song Gardens was next door to mine and I sat with him, he gave me a free beer and listened to my story. We’ll end things there, how did I recover and ever want to travel again after this? And how did I get money to stay the night and continue my trip? A story for another day, my friends…
By the way you can get all sorts of drinks and drugs in Vang Vieng and on the tubing. People walk around drinking mushroom shakes and are off their heads on drugs.
Here’s the lessons I learnt from the horrible tubing experience in Vang Vieng, Laos:
– ONLY take money with you. BELIEVE ME – that’s all you need!!
– NEVER take a camera (it will either get destroyed or lost. Others will have cameras – ask for their photos.
– NEVER buy or take a useless waterproof bag!
– Try not to drink too much alcohol (easier said than done)
– Avoid drugs
In closing – head to the town of Vang Vieng and go tubing but be very careful – it’s dangerous, people die tubing every year.
It’s still a great town though!
Have fun checking out Vang Vieng…
Tubing in Vang Vieng Laos – oh the madness…