When the riverside bars closed down  in 2012 the action sports companies moved in. Nowadays Vang Vieng is crawling with tour operators selling day tours of kayaking, ziplineing, terrain buggy driving and parasailing. One of my favorite sports is rock climbing so for me that was the natural choice. I booked a one day tour and as it turned out it was just me and the guide which was good for me. Since I’ve climbed before he gave me a few minutes reminder of how to belay then off we went. I belayed while he climbed lead and set the rope then he belayed while I climbed. The routs we took got progressively harder and on the second to last one there was a bit of an overhang so I had to make two attempts to make it. On the last one I almost got all the way up but I had sapped my strength and I just couldn’t hold on. It was great fun and great exercise; I really should take up climbing again when I’m back in Taiwan. 

To relax my sore muscles I went for a massage in the evening. There are lots of them around town offering a whole range of different massages. On their recommendation I went for the Lao massage with tiger balm. I’m normally not one for massages but it was very relaxing, I especially like that they used tiger balm as a massage oil. 

Well, I couldn’t come to Vang Vieng with the intention of seeing how it’s changed after the big government raid without actually doing something tubing. So, my second day in the city I slept until late, had a pizza for brunch (because it’s good filler before going drinking) then changed into my swim trunks and set off. 

The bars are much fewer than when I was here some years ago but the party is still going. The only real consequence is that people stay longer at each bar. If you’re a party animal I recommend tubing, if not maybe some action sports are more up your alley. Anyhow, despite not being a party animal, I had a very enjoyable afternoon.

Musical chairs a la Vang Vieng 

When I came back I was a bit drunk from the tubing. To combat it I had another pizza for dinner. With so many foreigners in town you’d think there would be some decent western food but so far I  haven’t  really found any; maybe everyone is too drunk/high to correctly judge the restaurants. 

In the last few days I’ve taken a couple evening walks to see what goes on when people come back from the tubing. The answer is: apparently nothing, the town is set up for partying (a few places even offer “happy pizza” or “happy shakes”) but the bars and restaurants are nearly empty. It’s actually kind of strange to see.