From speaking to people I have met that have backpacked, to all the research we both put in before we left, we came across/heard what seems to be some sort of “right of passage” for backpackers who go through South East Asia, this “Right of Passage” comes in the form of tubing.
Tubing PRE Vang Vieng:
Origin: 1835–45; tube + -ing1
And now POST Vang Vieng
Pronounced [toooooooo-bing! Man I am drunk. Hey let’s jump off this tree into shallow water!]
Origin: Somewhere in the 90’s (at an uneducated guess); tube + -ing1
Tubing over the last couple of years has gained somewhat of an unfair reputation, some could argue, but a reputation that has excited the very core of all backpackers and united many a nation over the Nam Song River.
The water was sparkling clean and the backdrop our upcoming adventure was something no one had actually mentioned to us at all. IT WAS STUNNING, what is written as “Red Rock” on the “who needs maps to scale” hand drawn maps given out carelessly by the guesthouses; sits an impressive figure of limestone that pretty much stalks the entire trip along the Nam Song. This does also limit the sunlight at times but the view along the entire journey was beautiful.
Something wasn’t right, no brash if ever slightly repetitive beat was bouncing off “Red Rock”, no Australians were swinging from tree’s (we read that the majority of injuries belonged to the Aussies. Finally the British were not at the top of the Darwin list of an activity in SEA for once!), and there was no sign of any local’s bringing us into bars with long bamboo sticks on the river bank.
Quenched for thirst… or the need for beer (same thing) we decided to pull over at the next set of steps and chance our arm at getting a cheeky beverage. Not too long after the pact was made Kezia who had seemed to “Tube” far more efficiently then the rest of us came across a set of steps and started her ascent. By the time we caught up with her it was too late, as we soon realised that we were actually in a lovely little old couples house. Embarrassed and more importantly sober Kezia had already inquired into the possibility of BeerLao… Lovely and little were two of the adjectives used for this lady, but if only one were allowed then the word “wise” would be prioritised, for as soon as she sold us a cheeky can of rice curated bliss, did she recommend that we enjoyed the Beerlao in the sun… so basically “get out”. Jim and Kezia gifted some chuppa chups for the children, from a dry bag that must have previously been owned by Mary Poppins, which bought us some time.
As we got down there were a few too many, younger and even more excited “Tuber’s” which made the four of us all try to float as effectively as we could downstream and reflect upon the fact that perhaps our “quiet, tranqil day” may in fact be even better than our previous expectations of the day.
Jim, the charismatic quarter of our tubing sect, took it upon himself to order the first round of bucket’s and as soon as we got them they were pretty much empty. The bar was then out of vodka (somehow) and this was why the word charasmatic was used as Jim convinced the barman/owner to go to the neighbours and see what booze they had. The answer? Lao Lao. Rice whiskey previously mentioned in article (2) of the Post Vang Vieng definition. Somehow Jim had convinced the barman to liberally share the bottle between the four of us in one sitting and to be honest the second half of the journey was a blur.
But where were the infamous “Tuber’s”, where had they gone?
This will have to be another post as it seems this one has gone on a little longer than I thought. Stay tuned.