##Going to Vang Vieng
I really can’t do justice to my Laos trip by writing about it, but I’ll try. I got into Vientiane pretty late at night on July 3rd and took a taxi to my hotel. Navigating Laos was a little more difficult than Thailand. The language barrier was more prominent, and the infrastructure fell anywhere between well kept buildings and mud huts. I needed to travel about four hours from Vientiane to Vang Vieng to meet Sarah and Ryan. In the morning, I asked the concierge at my hotel for a cab to the bus station. The staff insisted I take a tuk-tuk to save money. Lol. One of the hotel employees helped me flag one down on the street, with two young buddhist monks were occupying the back. They couldn’t have been older than 10 or 12. They directed their eyes away from me, but politely shifted over to make room. After a few blocks, the tuk tuk driver ordered them out and gestured to this random truck with a bunch of people stuffed inside. They hopped out and into the truck, and the tuk-tuk driver took a U-turn to proceed down a rocky, unpaved road. He swerved past most of the potholes but a few times I thought I was about to fly out of the tuk-tuk lol. I’m pretty sure I got ripped off because the ride cost just as much as my cab the night before, but I didn’t feel like complaining because it was still less than $5.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I got to the bus station. Thankfully right when I arrived, a man pointed to me and asked “Vang Vieng?”. I said yes and he led me over to a “mini bus”. I was sharing the mini bus with a bunch of teenage boys who were trying to covertly photograph me by pretending they were taking selfies. It was very obvious, so I just stuck my tongue out or smiled when I caught them. We stopped a couple times to squeeze in other passengers along the way, and once to use the restroom. Everyone gathered to have a cigarette when we stopped. I stood with them and had a popsicle.
Just when I was beginning to wonder how much longer I’d be stuck in the mini bus, I arrived in Vang Vieng. I paid the gave the mini bus driver $5 and hopped in another tuk-tuk to meet Sarah and Ryan.
We had some lunch at an Irish bar, and then rented tubes so we could go float down the river :)
##The Last Bar
I wasn’t expecting anyone in Laos to care about the 4th of July, but when we reached the first bar on the river there were a couple other Americans and plenty of people with red white and blue body paint. I asked one of the guys for a headband and he was kind enough to give me and Sarah his last ones :)
Ryan and Sarah and I had been looking for friendship bracelets since our first rendezvous in Phi Phi. We resolved to look for some that day because I might not see them in Asia again. It turned out we didn’t even have to, because one of the bartenders gave us friendship bracelets shortly after we started tubing :) It was pretty neat. After hanging out at the second bar for a while, we continued tubing down the river. We didn’t get very far, since the next bar was always roughly 50 yards away from the previous one. Every time we would approach another one, one of the people working there would cast their line (a waterbottle tied to a rope) and reel us in.
The “bars” were really just makeshift porches on the side of the river, but they were sick. One of my favorites was up on a cliff next to a beautiful green meadow. The scenery was overwhelming. The next one had a mud pit and basketball hoop with sprinklers you could run through. We ended up sticking with with the same 30 or so people all day, because we would all leave gradually and end up at the next bar together. Every single bar we went to, including the first one, claimed to be “the last bar”.
The rest of the day was so incredible, I’m at a loss trying to describe it. At one of the “last bar”s we ended up wandering to a path that led up the mountain. Me and this guy David, I forget where he was from … Spain or something, decided to see where it led. So we convinced Sarah and Ryan to follow us, and we started hiking up this rocky trail in the jungle, barefoot and in our bathing suits. We had no idea how long it was but the further we went the more we felt compelled to keep going. We didn’t have any of our things so we were using imaginary cameras to save mental snapshots :). I can’t even tell you what we found when we reached the top because it was too cool and nothing I say can adequately describe it. Haha isn’t that annoying? Go to Laos and see for yourself! :)
At the start of the day, we intended to be back by 6:00 so our deposits would be refunded. By 4:00 I was having so much fun that I decided I couldn’t care less about the deposit. By then, I had caught on to the “Last Bar” trick, so I didn’t think twice about floating right past the actual last bar. I was too busy giggling and hanging my head back over my tube to watch the upsidedown mountains glide through the sunset. At the time, “floating back to town” seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea.
Once the sun set, the light started dissapearing really quickly. Chaos ensued; for a few moments I was seriously concerned that I’d be forced to spend the night in my bathing suit, in the jungle, with the two strangers I recruited as my buddy system. I thought Sarah and Ryan had gotten out of the river a while ago, but later I found out they got back in to look for me. We ended up reuniting at a tuktuk when we heard eachother’s voices in the darkness. That is another story I can’t do justice to. Obviously I made it but staying in the river that late was stupid.
The next morning, we had breakfast at Friends Bar, a resturaunt with a bunch of table/cushion/couch/bed things that all face two tvs playing episodes of Friends. You can just chill in these things and eat and watch friends for hours. It’s pretty awesome. Then we layed in the hammocks and ate Rambuttan and chatted until my mini bus came to pick me up. I was sad to leave so soon, but it was an unforgetable trip nonetheless.