Vang Vieng is a place I'd heard about long before I arrived. The party capital of Laos is actually set in some very beautiful limestone karst scenery next top the Nam Song river, and its certainly a place that polarises peoples opinions. The town is infamous for an activity known as 'tubing' - take one white westerner, preferably below age 25 and place on an inflated tractor tube on the Nam Song river some 4 k's upstream from the town and by the end of the day you end up with a lobster coloured staggering drunken embarrasement. Don't miss it! It was good fun actually, we set out in the morning and stopped off at the first 'riverside bar'. There are loads of these on the way, all make-shift bamboo platforms complete with jumping towers and swing for the brave. It was at the first platform/bar that I met a Kiwi couple by the names of Brendan and Steph whom I was to run into some 3 of 4 times later in this trip, along with Tony from the UK and some others whose names now escape me. We bar hopped our way down the river on our tubes, and yours truly managed to get a bit to carried away by the end of the day.
The next day I hired a scooter for another of my trips into the hills to see the countryside set in my favourite type of setting, the limestone karst outcrops. A good day, but it was clear that the locals, even in the out of the way villages, had seen many many tourists in their time.