Today we caught the 9:30am VIP bus. When arriving to the bus station the VIP bus was broken and was replaced with the not-so-VIP bus. The ride to Vang Vieng was to take approx. 6 hrs. We left promptly on time and began the curvy mountain road drive. I dozed for the first coupe hours and awoke to the most amazing mountain views. The road contained many small villages along the way. It was a bit thrilling as the drop off the edge of the shoulder would have been a big buzzkill as it was straight down. Guardrails apparently are not an option.
The distance to VV is not that far, but when climbing up semi-primitave roads around hairpin turns it can be a bit tedious. A couple of the other bus passengers didn’t agree with the drive and looked pretty pale by the first rest stop.
We got into Vang Vieng around 4pm and hopped a tuk-tuk into the town center. We found a place called “The Palace” which was very Western and seemed to accommodate the Chinese tourist as the backpack scene was more down the road. The rooms were 170,000 Kip ($17) which was more than double the other rooms in the area. We felt like being “high rollers” and splurged for the two night stay.
After dumping our backpacks we found a nice riverside place to have a sunset beer and plan out the activities for the next day. Vang Vieng was known for its wild tubing party scene, but due to 22 tourist deaths last season the authorities shut down all but one of the dozens of river bars that lined the way downstream. Similar to Luang Prabang, the nightlife shutdown at 11:30pm. We heard of a club that was open until 1am and headed that way following the masses. The club was ultra noisy and played really bad house music. The DJ was terrible. He kept talking over the music and played numerous Gangnam Style remixes. The most interesting part of the night was watching the gradual slide of behavior for traveller and local alike. At one point I saw a visitor start heavily making out with what I can only describe as a troll in a dress. Oh the benefits of alcohol and low lighting. I can only wonder if they made it through the night till morning light.
Of course my highlight of the night was stepping on a board with a (probably rusty) nail in it on the way out of the club. Straight through the flip flop and into my big toe. Nothing like that feeling of piercing flesh on a dirty street in a 3rd world country. Yes my tetanus is up to date.