And here we go again.
Returning to Vang Vieng, Laos.
You can’t go home again.
I arrived back in Vang Vieng sometime the next afternoon. The hostel I was staying at before had nothing free, but the guy offered to let me stay in a bed with Andy… (seriously, what does this say about me???) I was tempted to take him up on the offer but considering I didn’t think Andy even knew I was back I didn’t want to say yes without consulting so I got a room next door.
And then, I waited. Finally sometime later that afternoon people started trickling back from tubing. The reactions were pretty priceless as none of them knew I was coming back (despite the fact that I had actually originally said I’d be coming back eventually). They were all pretty shocked to see me. And were all pretty worn out and, by then, getting ready to leave Vang Vieng themselves. But I was getting my second wind.
We went out that night to Bucket bar where we missed free buckets by a minute. And then we went to Rock Bar, where Andy and I played the worst game of pool ever (seriously, the table was so bar we had to give up before we finished) and Nick controlled the music.
It was an odd night. Because everything felt the same, but different. Like in three days away so much had changed, like it wasn’t quite the same. I don’t know how to describe it.
And I felt like I made a mistake in leaving. And I started to wonder if being away from new friends for 3 days made everything seem so different how would it feel to return home after a year?
I ended up meeting a Brit and a Dutch guy at Smile Bar, and we talked until everyone else I knew had left. The Brit, Simon, walked me home. No, actually, I walked him home, where he tried to bring me up to his room, citing the fact that he didn’t like to “sleep alone.” But I declined, and walked myself back, sat outside for a bit stealing wifi from the hostel, sharing a crepe with an Irish guy, petting an adorable black dog who slept next to me as I typed.
Guinness Book of Things.
What you kind of learn quickly, when traveling, is that there are always new friends to be made. So, the next day, I headed off to the river by myself to meet up with the new guys I had met at the bar the night before.
We spent the day drinking buckets, playing beer pong (where I actually sunk a couple), and perfecting my “Dutch Shuffle” (which is, seriously, my new favorite dance move).
That night I had a quiet night with my friends. Saying actual goodbyes one last time to some great people I’d seen throughout Vietnam and had been with since leaving there. We played a couple of rounds of pool, drank some beers, hugged goodbye.
Gus and Chris were still sticking around. They were troopers for sure. We hung out the next morning playing some pool before heading off to the river.
I went down to the river with Gus and Chris. We sipped on Mulberry mojitos (that helped the children!), played beer pong (I’m getting better!), and then chilled in a little cabana on the water.
I soon spotted my new Dutch/English/whatever friends and joined them on the dance floor…
The one where we actually go tubing.
After ten days going “tubing” in Vang Vieng we decided to do something novel: actually rent tubes. We made it way further down the river than we had before, played some mud volleyball, did giant slides and swings (well, they did, I don’t do that shit).
We still didn’t even finish the entire river and had to take a tuktuk back with our tubes, missing the deadline and not getting back our full deposits. But it was a nice change for the day.
That night we got free buckets. And the Melbourne bartender who Gus was chatting with souped our next bucket up…until Gus dropped it all over me. But we at least got a replacement. And we danced. And some French guy kept trying to give me a “real French kiss” for my birthday.
On the way home I think I told Gus that I’d carry him. Which was a ridiculously stupid idea because I immediately dropped him.
And when we got back to the hostel, he was being, well, himself, and running around. He started talking to some others and somehow he decided to do a backflip. In the middle of the street. And landed square on his back.
Not going to lie, I was pretty fucking scared when he wasn’t moving and when we picked him up and he couldn’t stand on his own. There was a lot of debate over whether we should try to get him to a hospital. He came to though and we all agreed it didn’t look like he’d landed on his head and it didn’t seem that he’d had a concussion. So I got him into bed. And tried to keep watch…