Let me share me experience of Lao plumbing with you...one moment you are spitting your toothpaste into the sink, the next it's all over your feet!!! It appears that pipes are not necessary as the sink discharges over the floor of the "wet room" into the same drain as the shower and probably the toilet but didn't inspect that far! So watch out - when you wash your hands you get a double-whammy and wash your feet too! No wonder the Lao people have such a thing about feet (HSBC advert), which I realised all-too-late when walking into a house, carrying my shoes, but they were all sitting on the floor so my shoes were above their head - no go!
Now in Vang Vieng, whose outstanding natural beauty set within breathtaking limestone karst scenery that dwarfs the small town has drawn backpackers in their hoards over the past few years. The Main Street is lines with TV bars, most of which blast out episodes of Friends all day long. Even if you go to one of the few bars without a TV, you will be able to hear the dialogue on about 5 others. This was fine by me for the 2 days / 3 nights I spent there and enjoyed an evening infront of the TV with my banana shake. Now the shakes can be another thing too - a "Happy Shake" can be ordered, as can a "Happy Pizza" etc. with a little extra ingredient which I fully disapprove of. But drugs were everywhere here and even on the dinner menus - opium, grass, mushrooms in all varieties.
The activity for which Vang Vieng is renowned for is tubing - so I gave it a go, luckily on the only day in Lao when the sun came out! Sitting in a tube I gently floated down the river. Along the way were numerous bars, enticing you to them with various rope swings, jumps and loud music. The river was pretty low and had I not paddled most of the way I could have just sat there not moving. It took 4 hours to return to the town and I think many people would have got stuck in the bars well into the dark!
Next day I finally managed to kayak - been trying for months and something has always got in the way - kind of jinxed. On the way we looked in Elephant Cave where there were religious figures of the religion worshipped before Buddha took over. The old religion faded out because it required each family to sacrifice a buffalo or cow regularly else someone "would die or something very bad happen" to a family member, and the poor families could not afford this. The we hit the tubes again and donning head-torches, pulled ourselves into a very long cave along a rope. The cave extended for a long way back but nothing particularly interesting to see along the way. The kayaking was good fun, even though my partner, Laura, managed to steer us directly into the bridge abutment and we turned over!!