“That is the worst idea I have ever heard”. The words escape from my laughter as I accept the invitation and follow new friends to the top rated tourist attraction in Northern, Laos. River Tubing is a Laos specialty, no shoes or sanity required for this activity that takes place on the Nam Song River in Vang Vieng. Although, you might want to bring a helmet for all good parties require a helmet. A once quaint little picturesque village nestled into a scenic mountain backdrop now colonized by a peculiar happy insanity only found as a direct result of copious amounts of adrenalin and drinks served out of sand castle sized buckets.
“This drink is not normal”. As I sip from my bucket and watch people launch themselves off of a wooden tower onto a trapeze swing over the river. Half a bucket later, I start to wonder what on earth is really in my drink for I am very awake. Circus juice or amphetamines or both at best guess, and I can assure you that me on speed is the worst idea anyone has ever had, for since birth, sitting still has never been my specialty.
The majority of the crowd has lost their tube and is swimming down the river from one trapeze circus act bar to the next “event”. Only in a country like Laos where words such as ‘play at or own risk, liability, death and endangerment, law suit’ are not muttered could only such a place exist. I am now calling it the drinking, drowning, swimming place for river tubing no longer seems like the appropriate word for this mobile nautical festival of intoxication, acrobatic events and ultra hyper happy swimming drunk people. A whole crowd of folks who also can’t sit still, I may have found my people, maybe I will live here for a while.
“This is such a bad idea”. The thought goes through my head as I climb 2 stories on top of wooden scaffolding and grab hold of the zip line. My hands grasp hold of the circa WW2 metal handle bar and off I go at a million miles an hour down a thin metal cable, drunk, flying on speed buckets to get dropped on my head into the river. Splash, I feel like I have been in a traffic accident as I swim through the current amongst an obstacle of ropes and stray tubes to the next “event”.
As my whiplash sets in and mud ricochets off of my face from the mud pit wrestling match, I suddenly remember that I am on a world bicycle tour and getting injured while partying like a dead rockstar doesn’t exactly qualify as an excuse to quit. As I make my way to drier ground, I bump into a mud stained hyper circus colleague and say, in order to remind myself, I rode my bicycle here. He is laughing too hard at me to talk about it and so am I, therefore he finds my unlikely bicycle story hilarious.
The next morning, I wake up with a brain tumor, say to Pandemic The Understanding Magic Bicycle, good thing you are green because I might hurl all over you today and pedal, pedal, pedal as fast as I can out of the chaos which is Vang Vieng. The most fun, worst example of tourism I have ever seen and I could have stayed a week.
|Until Next Time Vang Vieng!|