If you like to party and you’ve never been to Vang Vieng, Laos you are making a huge mistake. Seriously, start planning a trip right now, because if you’re fond of an alcohol fueled good time, this place is paradise. Let me set the scene for you. Picture a curvy, slow moving river neatly placed at the foot of some unique, ancient looking mountains. Now add a plethora of bamboo bars at each turn in the river equipped with dance floors, zip lines, slides and rope swings. You start at the top of the river with a tube alongside hundreds of bikini-clad chicks and tattooed backpacker dudes from all over the world. Free “Lao Lao” whiskey shots are forced down your throat at nearly every turn, while food and beer will cost you pennies. If you’re too drunk to get out of your tube and swim over to a bamboo bar, it’s not a problem, the bar tenders will throw you a rope and pull you right in. As the time goes on and your inhibitions are lowered you find yourself standing on a tiny platform atop a thirty-foot tree, about to indulge in a rope swing over the river.
Ironically, its the same rope swing you were commenting on how crazy unsafe it looked when you arrived. The thwomping bass from the everlasting house music drowns out your shrills as you fly through the air and into the river. The next thing you know you’re mud wrestling British girls and you’ve completely forgotten you’re in a small town in Southeast Asia.
The next morning, when you wake up in a haze having partied long into the night, you realize you will have to stay there another day, as traveling severely hungover in a hot, bumpy bus is not an option. Eventually you get the motivation to slowly venture out of your guesthouse into the powerful sun, squinting because you lost your sunglasses in the river. As you desperately search for some water you realize that everyone is in the same terrible condition as yourself. Conveniently, the crafty Laotians and backpackers who’ve decided to make this party wonderland their home predicted this and planned accordingly.
Almost every restaurant in the city is set up specifically for hungover patrons. The floor is aligned with pillows and TV’s are playing Friends, Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy all day long. As you waste an entire day nursing a wicked Lao Lao hangover by laying, eating and watching TV you start to feel slightly bad that you came halfway around the world to do what College students do every Sunday. As your body slowly returns to a normal state, the city tempts you with “special” shakes, more beers and tuk-tuks full of funny foreign people to party with. Jobs for foreigners (especially females) are plentiful to provide entertainment for the ever-flowing stream of fun seeking travelers. Although you are tempted to stay and live the dream for a while, you start talking to those brave souls who have taken this path and realize the toll this type of partying will have on you. During my first night I stumbled upon this legendary British party animal who may have thought he was dancing, but seemed to just be shifting his weight back and forth in attempt to keep standing while flailing his arms. His outfit consisted of tiger striped panty hose and a plethora of unrelated, overlapping tattoos that didn’t seem like sober decisions.
I decided I must address this legend and see how long it takes in Vang Vieng to enter this state of debauchery. In a slurred, cockney accent he exclaimed something about his liver being in the river and that he had been there for a month. Not sure if I should bow to this man or call his parents I decided 3 or 4 days in Vang Vieng would be enough.