Monday, February 18, 2008

Vang Vieng

The tiny little town of Vang Vieng is situated just about halfway between Luang Prabang and the capitol city of Vientiane. It is a town consisting of maybe four main streets that are loaded with guest houses and Friends bars. This place is a backpackers haven with people milling out and relaxing for a few days before heading back out to enjoy the outlying scenery.

Main Street in Vang Vieng
View of Nam Song and hills from our hotel room
We had booked our guesthouse room while we were in Luang Prabang, it was a little more expensive at $30 a night, but it was right on the Song River and we had a great view from our balcony.
Here there are also a lot of caves in the mountains that people explore and kayaking and tubing down the Nam Song. The tubing had come recommended by one of the girls we were talking to our first night in Luang Prabang, she had thought it would be a waste of time but her friends had talked her into it and now she was pushing it as a must do.
We took a quick walk though town, and over to a small island in the river where we discussed our options for staying another night here, and tubing on the river, or pushing on down to Vientaine and spending two nights there.
Crossing over to bar island (Don Khang)
Wading into the Nan Song
Kayak coming down the river
Small bar we stopped at for a drink
Over on the small island there are small platforms set up along the river banks where people stop from their tubing run into town to relax and have a drink or more. Several of these places are just cushions to lay on, some have hammocks, and some have people laying out on lawn chairs. We decide that we will spend a day tubing down the river, this does look like it will be enjoyable.
At the bar is where we saw our first example of exactly why the backpackers love Vang Vieng. Our guide book mentioned that you needed to pay attention if you were going to order a happy pizza, or a happy drink...
This was slipped under our drink menu when we sat at the bar.
Apparently ordering anything as happy means you can get toppings of weed, mushrooms, or even opium. This is also why the town is filled with these Friends bars, which are restaurants with nice relaxing couches that only play reruns of the television show Friends. Some now have branched out and are showing the Family Guy cartoon, but people sit there and eat their happy pizzas and laugh and laugh at a show that really isn't funny...
Friends bar
We opted for a local Laos restaurant that was recommended in our guide as being the most authentic in town. We then went back to our hotel and asked about increasing our stay for one more night - no luck, they were fully booked. So we took that as a sign and went to a travel agent in town and booked the local bus to Vientiane leaving the next day at 13:30. We also booked two days at in guest house there, so that we didn't have to worry about running into only one night availibility again.
Well, no tubing but we planned to take a bout tour up the river first thing in the morning. We headed back over to the bar island and, admist the loud thumping music and dancing crowds, we relaxed in some hammocks and enjoyed a nice drink.
Relaxing along the Nam Song


Anonymous said...

Happy Pizza - what a concept?!?! They try to be subtle about it - too funny!

Sounds like a GREAT trip!

Lisa T.

Lisa Wilson said...

You look pretty happy in your picture in your hammock Tina!! What kind of happy drink did you have?

Tina said...

Ah Lisa, Alas no happy drinks for us...