The second time I visited Vang Vieng - population 25,000 - was on the month of September. I was curious if the sedate atmosphere was still there: backpackers too lazy to think outside alcohol; floating along the Song River on a tube, a dash of hashish in the fray, and just letting their hair down. I opted to stay this time at one of the riverside hotels which was far nicer than my previous Vang Vieng guesthouses. How times have changed indeed. I don't scrimp too much anymore since I've learned to get comfortable with the monetary exchanges and foreign expenditures.
I had to cross the suspension bridge again, pay a minimal fee for doing so, and headed to the village just across. This part of town was quiet and fewer tourists stay in this area. Then I encountered a playful puppy who, after a few coaxing, walked over and had his belly scratched! It was the cutest thing.
While I adore dogs (I grew up with half a dozen dogs roaming inside the house at anytime during my childhood), I have learned to steer clear from them during travels because some of them aren't the warmest creatures, even without provocation. And Laos, particularly Savannakhet (south of Vientiane), has oodles of these unfriendly strays.
Meanwhile, Vang Vieng, situated between Viantiane and Luang Prabang, is gradually losing its relaxed atmosphere with the influx of more tourists. In a couple of years, commercialism would totally pop the surreal riverside bubble. Isn't this sad? Probably not for the locals who will eventually benefit from this steady parade of fun lovers.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|Nam Song - the Song River - and Vang Vieng's dramatic Karst Mountains.