Things on our travels don’t always go well and here is my story of how NOT to go tubing in Vang Vieng in Laos – yes it’s a great place but there are dangers and things can just go horribly wrong…I’m advising travellers to stay safe and careful!
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!
After the night up, it was up and ready for a crazy day of tubing. Everything was going well and a truck took us to the first bar of the 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.
Earlier in the day I had bought a green waterproof “Tubing Bag” for my wallet and my camera (plus one spare memory card). That was all I needed for the day – wallet and camera. The stupidest thing I did was I brought ALL my cards and money with me (including my Hong Kong ID card and my currency in HK Dollars, US Dollars and Laos Kipp). The reason I brought it all was I didn’t trust leaving it in the hostel. First mistake was bringing it all with me. Second mistake was buying that green bag. By the time bar four arrived, as I was reeling myself in on the tube, I got distracted by a stupid green bottle on a rope which I thought was my waterproof bag. As I reached for it, I lost my way into the bar and turned round to swim across. It all happened very quick and the currents on the stream are fast, believe me. Once something disappears down the river, it’s gone. My green waterproof bag (which was attached round my neck) had disappeared forever.
Going with it was my entire money and credit cards for the entire trip, plus 3 other ID cards and my camera full of memories of photos and videos. Oh dear! And I was now stranded in a bar in Vang Vieng. With other people of course. I met up with my mate Chaz again in the bar and he too had lost his wallet but kept his phone. He luckily didn’t bring all his cards with him and I still have no idea why I risked taking everything into the river that day. Maybe to teach myself a lesson and realise I was wrong. I trusted myself more than I trusted the hostel, and I was wrong to do that.
I got a drink off my mate and managed to still have my flip flops and my travelling Northern Ireland flag. But I had lost the more important things – camera and wallet.
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!
By the time I was in the third bar I wanted just to go home, I had lost everything and couldn’t even pay for a ride home. It was now almost 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…
In Vang Vieng you can get all sort of drinks and drugs. Mushroom and Opium shakes are the buzz. I met loads of people off their heads on drugs.
Lessons to learn about the dangers of tubing in Vang Vieng, LAOS:
– Take only money with you – trust me.
– NEVER take a camera (it will either get destroyed or lost. Others will have cameras – ask for their photos.
– Make sure you don’t use or take one of those waterproof bags in with you
– Try not to drink too much alcohol (easier said than done)
– Try not to take drugs (there are lots available)
So in closing, head to Vang Vieng and enjoy it, but BE CAREFUL! People die in the river ever year, at least I survived, at the end of the day, it’s only money…
The town of Vang Vieng is still excellent though!
Enjoy your time in Vang Vieng…
Tubing in Vang Vieng Laos – oh the madness…
For more funny adventure stories and tips like Tubing Going Wrong in Vang Vieng head to Jonny Blair’s extremely recommended site A Lifestyle of adventure.. Check here for free reprint license: Tubing Going Wrong in Vang Vieng.