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In the Tubing and Mr. Adventure’s Colourful Cock Chase

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In Chiang Mai we’d heard rumors of a magical place that played Friends and Family Guy episodes on repeat. I have never been that excited to see the familiar faces of Phoebe Bouffet or Peter Griffin and seeing them in the middle Laos was surreal. Famous for its happy menus and its tubing, Vang Vieng gets messy for Mr. and Mrs…and for the first time in my life I could have used a life jacket…or water wings.

Sticking out like socks and sandals, it was easy to spot the days tubers.  Worn off neon paint, head bands sporting some blasphemy, little to no clothing and the famous “In the Tubing” Vang Vieng, Laos tank. Heading into a bar that night we’d see a video someone had filmed of the day’s tubing, swinging and slide rides. There looked to be a lot of catapulting and rag dolling through the air as well as a lot of drinking and good times.  Tubing four days straight and one guy hadn’t once made it to the finish line yet.  Someone else said that a tube wasn’t even really needed. The Mekong’s spring waters were drying up leaving shallow waters low enough to wade from bar to bar. We found some slow boat friends from Luang Prabang and decided to meet the next morning for some tubing action. Little did we know that the day would leave some of us bruised, too “happy” to tube, chasing cocks and never making it to the finish line…not even close.  I actually think we ended up making it back to where our tuk-tuk originally dropped us off. We had been told that the drivers don’t drop you off at the very top of the tubing channel and charge you extra if you want to go there. Walking instead is possible… and interesting. You’ll have to trek through a cow farm and over some janky nail protruding ladders. Good thing we updated our tetanus.

We’d spot the twirly slide and made that our first stop. Instead of the friendly Sabaidee and the notorious offer of “something something?” we’d be greeted by a Laos guy with a bottle of lao lao fixed with a pump nozzle. We tilted our heads back and prayed that this “something something” would get us at least past noon. Then we spotted the famous zip-line water swing that had made it into the video clip we’d seen at the bar the night before. Hopping into the water and floating over to it in our tubes we’d get stuck find ourselves preoccupied here for hours. The getting there was memorable as it would nearly leave some of us toothless. Like bar street promoters, Lao boys hang out in front of their bar with a rope and buoy ready to lasso and toss out to potential partiers, towing you in.

Not only did the zip-line provide for much amusement, there was also the high board. As graceful as he tried to be, Morgan would end up with a ballooned out elephant elbow. No matter. Another bucket of lao-lao and it was go time. If you weren’t zip-lining or high jumping you could indulge in the one of the best things…the fine art of people watching. Dancing on the bamboo mat dance floor or dressing up in hand crafted head bands sporting personalized phrases custom made by bar staff to you…I believe mine said “I have a dick”. Morgan was too busy chasing a rooster around one bar’s back yard saying repeatedly  “What a colourful cock!” with arms t-rexed out in front like a little kid.

Getting back in the water posed a slight problem. Like a little kid on her first day of swimming lessons, I’d have to be assisted into my tube. The shallow waters became far too deep and definitely drownable to those of us who’d partake in the happy brownies on offer as a welcome gift.The Limey

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