Legless in a Tube


Monday, 28 March, 2011

Vang Vieng, Laos

The British love a good piss up. We celebrate with a drink, we mourn with a drink, we calm our nerves with a drink and we socialise with a drink. We are born and raised to challenge our liver and we bloody love it.

What I’m trying to say is that, I, much like most of my readership, have at one point or another, woken up covered in cigarette ash, vomit and the garlic sauce from last night’s kebab. It’s just how we interact!

Well, in Laos we ended up getting into the best piss up I’ve possibly ever had.

Vang Vieng is renowned for tubing – which basically entails sitting in a tyre and slowly floating down a river surrounded by bars. It’s a pretty fancy way to get on the booze. The closest I ever previously came to exotic was accidentally ordering a drink with a slice of pineapple stuck to the rim of the glass, so I was curious and excited.

As we started frivolously floating down the river, I became very comfortable fairly early on – I also didn’t have much sleep the night before, thus, my eyelids slowly started defeating me. That’s right, I was falling asleep on the world’s most exciting bar crawl. Perhaps after the nap I could knit a scarf for my grandson.

Also, I’m a light sleeper and my mum made me take swimming lessons for a few months when I was seven – I knew I could snooze, due to my background. I’d suggest having a coffee before tubing if you don’t have that kind of previous adequate level of training.

As I was dozing off, I suddenly felt a crack to the head. The hit left me so shaken and unbalanced that I almost fell out of my tube completely. Had I woken up in a fight?! With my vision still readjusting and slightly blurred, I took a look to my left. A woman with big boobs in a bikini on the riverbank was signalling me over – when that happened, I assumed I was just having a dream.

She then pointed at something next to me and shouted, ‘grab it’. It was a bottle – she seemed pretty keen for my attention. At this point, I logically assumed that this was some sort of love note. However, there was nothing inside. I glanced behind me to see Ruby. She asked if we should go, but I still wasn’t completely sure what was going on.

I then notice that the bottle was attached to a rope. The woman with the big boobs wasn’t in love with me at all, but instead, was just trying to get me to her bar – I must say, I’m sure there are kinder ways than throwing a bottle at someone’s head, but it worked. We were in the bar within seconds and the festivities were ready to begin.

After all, this was a trip for drinkers rather than sleepers – at least, that was my way of justifying being roped into a bar by a woman with big boobs to Ruby. We played a few drinking games, which resulted in Ruby and I taking a few shots. Thus, I would be leaving that bar in the zone – no more sleeping – it was now party time! We jumped back in our tube and floated on to bar two.

I certainly felt awake at that point, and actually caught the bottle that would be puling us into the second bar. There is nothing more to say on that really, I was just really proud of my catch. So, I’ve decided to share my joy.

Bar number two came with a swing rope. We obviously had to have a go on that, however, before we could make our way over, we were dragged into some more drinking games. They say you learn something new every day, and on that day, we learned that we are really crappy at drinking games. This forced us into more shots.

It was only the second bar and I was already starting to get a little bit drunk. By the time we were finally ready to take on the swing, my eyes were showing me three swings.

It is a well-known fact that a person is better at everything when they are drunk, and I am no exception. I strutted up to the podium with the self-confidence of a boxing champion. However, once I was standing on the edge of the hill top, the water looked really, really far away.

Did I have time for another shot?

The entire drinking game group were watching from the bar as I reevaluated the situation. I nervously took my time as my new friends started shouting words of encouragement, “Don’t be a pussy.” Was probably the message of support that really touched my heart the most. I knew that the longer I left it, the worse the pressure would become. So, I gulped, closed my eyes and started swinging.

The crowd cheered, I was a hero.

There was still one thing left to do of course, let go of the swing’s bar. After all, it was the distance to the water that was always the problem. I swung back and forth five times – I’m pretty sure by the third time the crowd got bored and just turned their heads back to their beers.

The only way for this to end is to let go, you idiot!

I reverted back to what was developing into my signature move – I gulped, closed my eyes and then released my fingers.

Apparently, I flapped around in the air like a new born bird trying to learn how to fly, but who cares, I did it. I’d exhibited my bravery to a bunch of drunk strangers. So, with nothing left to prove it was time to call time on the swinging nonsense. The rest of the day would be strictly about booze and failing at drinking games.

We really did continue to do terribly at the games too. In fact, our record at the end of the day was one win out of eight. You’d probably think we were being set up, if you didn’t get to witness how truly bad we were. As you can imagine, after losing for the seventh time we could barely walk.

I guess the easiest way to get across our level of drunk, would be to simply inform you that I went home with one shoe on and one shoe off. Yep, my left flip-flop finished the day floating down the Nam Song River. On reflection, I should have probably just thrown away the right one too, simply finishing the day walking around barefooted. However, apparently, in my drunken state I was adamant that the sole on my right foot should be protected at all costs.

The hangover the next day was pretty rough, but overall the tubing experience was brilliant fun.

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