BootsnAll Travel Network

Doing the tube.

After my little excitement with Sasha, I made a dash for my next destination of Vang Vieng. I say dash as it was my second attempt and third time at that little town on the crossroads. It was a victorious moment as I zoomed past oil intact and headed down the mountain side to the flat lands below.

Vang Vieng is considered Laos action center with plenty of activities for the adventurous traveler. For those who are not adventurous and have the physique of a golfer or Bangkok hooker chaser, tubing is the sport of choice in Vang Vieng. Actually it is almost a must do for everyone.

Tubing is basically ten bucks to rent a tractor tire tube and carried up about four kilometers where you plunk your ass in the tube and float down the river back to Vang Vieng. The catch to the whole sport is that you also have to stop at these riverside bars where plenty of alcohol is served as well as food. To keep the tubers from actually tubing there are all types of rave type set ups as well as most having a swing, slide, or diving platform. Depending on the season it can take a few hours to all day to make the trip but I would say the majority of the people make it about a quarter of the way and get stuck at one of the bars. They have plenty of tuk tuk drivers waiting on the other side of the river to carry you and your tube back to town. It’s all a bunch of fun but as a sport it ranks slightly behind golf if golfing was sitting in a electric go-kart drinking beer while your caddie actually plays the round for you.

The other motorcycle/bicycle thing to do was to drive the loop which was a dirt road rounding around a set of villages and stopping by the many caves and swimming holes. It’s a good half day experience depending again if you stop at one of the watering holes or how lost you get (me).

Beyond that the usual white water stuff, climbing, caving, mountain biking, etc is available for those wanting a little bit of excitement as well as a hundred or so restaurants and bars for just watching the sun set.

One of the Buddha statues in the one of the caves. A point about caves and spelunking. It is dangerous as hell. I am not sure which would be more dangerous doing along, spelunking or diving. I can tell you this experience was one of the few times that I was spooked while on this trip. They give a brief mention in the guidebooks that a few people have died while getting lost in the caves, but that’s about it. One thing about these caves is that they are all natural with minimal maintenance done to them ie. no lights, signage, caretakers, etc. They are also not the walk in entrance with a huge chamber. These caves are rough and raw. My bad experience was my headlamp with it’s discount batteries starting to die. Luckily, it was right at the beginning so I was only two chambers in, but because the chambers are connected by narrow winding fissures, there is absolutely no light even two chambers in. The other nasty part is that there are hundreds of branches sprouting out as well as deep pitfalls. Everything looks the same after a couple of turns and getting disoriented is quick and easy. After just that first chamber in and realizing my light was dimming I got spooked when I wasn’t sure which direction was out. After taking a breather outside and reading that this cave in particular had a lagoon on the inside I dared myself to go back in. I found that there were small arrows painted every so often and that by taking my time I felt confident that I could remember which way was out. I also factored that I had fresh batteries in my camera and the view screen would illuminate almost as much as my headlamp was. Also, I had a box of wooden matches which should have been good for about ten lights. So I headed in. I made it through probably six chambers with many of the passageways requireing scooting on your stomach or ass or climbing ladders. Finally, I started second guessing myself and figured that this was not such a good idea. I decided to turn back and then got confused. Talk about getting spooked. That is truly a sketchy scenario. I took a breather and decided the best thing to do would be to go chamber by chamber stopping each time to try and figure out my bearings rather than doing what I usually do while on my bike which is accelerate and hope for the best. Some of these caves extend for kilometers so I definitely did not want to make a mistake. Finally, I made it out with a big dehydration headache and feeling not so great. Usually the response is that you should go in groups, but even that is probably not the best idea as all that means is that you have a group of people just as lost. Getting a guide for this kind of stuff is highly recommendated and I am definitely not a pro-guide person.

It didn’t help knowing these big ass spiders were all over the place. It made grabbing the walls a little less secure.

Doing the loop with some sketchy river crossings. This was actually the end for motorbikes as I ran into a couple of Irish guys who had called it quits there as well. I found an alternate route which gave me the chance to actually use the bike for some off road stuff.

This was the end of the alternate route as the plant life was starting to take over the trail. It was an old logging road which seemed to end in this little culdesac.

Found a skull, that was a good sign.

Limestone karsts and rice fields. Probably looks even better during the rainy season.

Sasha taking a bath.

The Nam Song (Song River) where the tubing takes place. The bamboo bridges connect to the bars/villas on the far side.

The swing.

River party.

Some tubers.
On a side note I do have to add that somehow from midway through Vietnam until the weather warmed up in Vang Vieng where I was able to shed my arctic jacket and am back to shorts and t-shirt, I seemed to have developed a tube around my waist. I got fat. Now, I am not huge, but the old 3.5 pack is now closer to tubish. It’s all that rice, it has to be. The donuts probably were a factor, and the triple servings of everything, but damn it. I need to go back to Nepal and walk my ass back into shape. Stupid guesthouse full length mirror.
On a side side related note, a Belgian guy who I was hanging out with who is the prototypical sex freak that Austin Powers described in Goldfinger, his constant statement of “I must go and masterbate”, after every blonde we passed (he had been traveling through China and now SE Asia and had “Yellow fever”), which I could only deal with for three days and the decline of splitting the cost of a room (are you insane), he pointed out how big western women were. Since I haven’t seen too many and virtually none in bikinis, I was pretty shocked to realize how right he was. I think compared to how petite the average asian is the western females come across as a bit rubenesque. Rice is the devil.

Tags: ,

4 responses to “Doing the tube.”

  1. Marisa says:

    Congrats on getting out alive while spelunking. It’s pretty scary stuff. My husband lost two college roommates to caves.

  2. snw2srf2stt says:

    Spelunking is pretty daunting and I don’t spook very easily. My cobwebbed warning lights were flashing like crazy after getting two chambers in. It is one of the rare circumstances that if i am going to do it I will seek professional help and equipment.

  3. snw2srf2stt says:


    Awesome and cool.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *