We had an early start, 6.30am, packing in torchlight as there was no electricity. Soon enough we were in a mini van with some lanky Americans on our way to the town of Vang Vieng which we had fond memories of last time, not least because Guy had his curly locks cut off there at the most picturesque barbers ever.
It was a short 4 hour drive, although we stopped for breakfast half an hour away from Vang Vieng, so arrived at 11.15am. Our hotel was plush, with riverside view as we were avoiding the noisy, drunk, young backpacker scene.
Vang Vieng has had a chequered history since we last visited, it was the centre of the backpacker drinking, drug taking scene which when combined with tubing, kayaking and other sports ended up in a few deaths. Eventually the government cleaned the village up and it returned to the backpacker drinking and kayaking scene, but not both together, and drugs were frowned upon.
A wander round the town made us realise that although the scenery is still stunning, karst landscape all around meant you could walk out of the village to appreciate the views, in the village it is all bars, cafes, restaurants all showing re runs of Friends, with backpackers more likely to be watching that than taking in the scenery. It is all a little Costa Del Sol, gone wrong.
The roads and streets are still dusty and being built, it is very much work in progress. There are baguette, pancake and fruit shake sellers everywhere for the backpackers munchies cravings. To be clear, photo below is of the pancake, baguette and fruit shake seller not of a backpacker with munchies!
The temperature and humidity were rising, so we stopped for shade and fruit shake, and overheard a conversation between some young Americans about an Irish bar. Well, we had to check it out, we have been to an Irish bar in every country on this trip, a fact we are very proud of. It was called Gav’s Bar, or another sign said Ger Bar and yet another sign said Gary’s Bar, you choose! As it was too early for a beer, 3pm, so we did more wandering and reminiscing.
At 4 pm it was the right time for a beer and we went to Earth bar, to be greeted by a young lad with a soft Geordie accent. He had come here in 2007 and not left, fell in love with the country and a girl, opened a bar just by the river overlooking party island. We got prime sunset viewing seats and chatted to him, he told us about his burgers and how he had seen the cows being slaughtered, and how they gave them one last good meal before the inevitable end. Our dinner choice was made. He also advised having ice with our beer. We double checked him, ‘Are you sure you are a Geordie?’ He laughed…..
Then we needed to visit the Irish bar, I missed the last step on entering so fell in like a drunk backpacker. We sat next to some Aussie youth who were having a conversation about how over 40’s should have their own bars…….we left after one beer and I managed not to fall out of the bar like a drunk, old backpacker.
We made our way back to Earth bar, got Tree House spot, overlooking the stage and rest of the bar. We ordered the best burgers we have had on this trip and settled back feeling very relaxed (or drunk!) and enjoyed the live music.
We made our way back to our plush hotel like the aging, drunk backpackers we are, happy in the knowledge we were leaving the kids to party on!