My trip u-turned from ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ to ‘Sleep, Puke, Shit’ rapidly in the past couple of days due to a dodgy green curry. Seven hours after consumption I was lying moaning in my cheap grubby guesthouse room with full-blown food poisoning, spending far too much time in a bathroom that smelled like something had died in it, and cursing the day I ever came to Vang Vieng.
I was never too keen on visiting Vang Vieng, but it’s a logical stopping-off point to break up the endless hours on the road towards Ventiane. The bus journey there took twice as long as the booking agent had told us (not surprisingly, as there were some amazing mountain roads to scale in a bus that seemed to be made of cardboard and held together with rubber bands and gaffa tape). Still, the scenery was beautiful, and I had my two lovely German travel buddies (Rahel and Sascha) to keep me company.
When we arrived at the guesthouse that we’d booked in advance, they had given our rooms away, but after a bit of negotiation they found us a couple of rooms in another building. They had a fantastic view of the river, but as the sun went down the music volume from the bar opposite went up, and up, and up. Vang Vieng seems to be the party capital of Laos and the main attraction here is tubing (which involves hiring an inner tube and floating down the Mekong from bar to bar, getting very drunk). Quite often people die from the experience… getting stoned and drunk is probably not the best way to avoid drowning. In the evenings, the place is swimming with half naked young tourists on their way back from the river, hanging off the back of tuk tuks singing rugby songs or stuffing kebabs in their face. By day there are numerous cafes showing endless loops of ‘Friends’ episodes for those nursing their hangovers and seeking home comforts. We decided within ten seconds of arriving that we were NOT going tubing.
Instead, we booked a one day beginner’s rock climbing course for the following day but that night the evil stomach aliens landed and there was no way I was going anywhere more than 10 meters from the bathroom for quite some time. Luckily for me I had Rahel as my room mate / nurse, who kept running around making sure I was okay and putting up with me making revolting sounds in the bathroom all night…. and also Sascha popping in regularly to visit and making me laugh by bringing me a watermelon wrapped in a towel to hug for comfort!
As I lay in my sick bed watching a local woman wash her clothes in the peaceful river below I wondered what the hell she must think of the Westerners that she’s forced to share her home town with. Perhaps it wasn’t the food that made me sick… I have my suspicions that I’m allergic to Vang Vieng.
All’s well that ends well though. Today I’m feeling much better and can eat again. I even dragged my weak and nauseous body onto the bus and made it all the way to Ventiane this afternoon without any need for sick bags.
More about Laos’ Capital City in my next entry. In the meantime, take my advice and stay away from green curry… and inner tubes.