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ASIA & CHINA - THE "KEEP ON SMILING" TOUR

Vang Vieng Postcard

VANG VIENG

"THE RIVER FLOWS"

The plan was to catch a bus or minivan south to the capital city of Laos, Vientiane. However the night before I had noticed a few tourists walking around wearing t-shirts emblazoned with Vang Vieng and decided to stop off at the tourist spot on the way down.

I couldn’t believe my luck. The female blond Eastern Europeans with their huge fake tits and mobster boyfriends were on the exact same minibus. We passed spectacular scenery of rugged, jagged peaks and men standing on isolated parts of the road, with their rifles slung over their shoulder.

The mobster boyfriends were not impressed.

Laos roadside scenery
View from the road to Vang Vieng

“Yay, I have seen it all before. Nothing!”

However, there were others on the bus who were wondering why a civilian would be stationed on the side of the road, with a rifle slung over his shoulder.

The minivan driver informed us that the person was part of the loacl armed militia and his purpose was stopping the possibility of bandits from the northern hills, intent on destruction, from attacking the nearby villages.

“The peaks and the valleys are more interesting” was the final word on the matter, coming from a mobster boyfriend.

After then we all shut-up. Enough said.

******

Arriving in Vang Vieng, I was beginning to find my feet. Around 8pm I entered a tourist pub emblazoned with Bob Marley paraphernalia. At the bar was a tall, bearded American approaching his 30s. He was the pub DJ, operating off his IPOD.

He told me he refused to play any Bob Marley songs from the Legend album and that it was virtually impossible to find an upbeat Neil Young song. Originally an English Professor from New Orleans, he had faced a breakdown in the Western World and was currently living in Laos receiving free board, food and beer for his DJ work. The Laos bar owners were desperate for the DJ to stay and were enticing him with the wife’s sister-in-law, who was due to arrive next week.

Vang Vieng scenery
Vang Vieng scenery

Around 9pm, another American local, a friend of the DJ, turned up with a huge joint. Gleeful, we demolished the joint, drinking beer at the bar, turning the conversation into conspiracy theories. Apparently the CIA were still infiltrating Laos and had recently attacked a local militia armoury. Now there were fears the militia was intent on kidnapping a drunk, stoned tourist … as payback.

Bamboo bar
Taking a break from tubing

I left to get back to bed before the scheduled raid.

Tomorrow I would be visiting some caves. Apparently, from 1964 to 1973, the US military dropped 2.5 million tons of bombs upon Laos. If it were not for the caves and their ability to withstand the bombs, there would be no Laos and therefore no Bob Marley pub.

It did not bear thinking about.

Tomorrow would be my one full day in Vieng Vang, visiting caves and tubing down the nearby river, stopping at riverside bars along the way.

So many bars with so little time...by 8pm of the next day I had specialised and situated myself at the Bob Marley bar once again.