Jammin in Vang Vieng

Bus rolls into Vang Vieng, I know this because the bus driver starts shouting, “Vang Vieng! Vang Vieng!”

The only reason I’m here is because there are some very photogenic rice fields in the area. But it turns out that Vang Vieng is a happening tourist destination, specifically for the backpacker crowd. Twenty-somethings, college dropouts, and permanent refugees from normality. I guess I’m in the latter group.

The town is surrounded by mountains, and streets lined with tourist oriented businesses: guest houses, gift shops, restaurants, and an ubiquitous Bob Marley Bar. Its pretty damn far from Jamaica, but I believe similar agricultural activities abound.

We jammin
We jammin
And I hope you like jammin too

One of the big activities is tubing down the river and getting wasted. Until recently the river bank was lined with float up bars, but a stop has been put to that, since roughly 20 young lunatics killed themselves in the river every year somehow.

Every day we pay the price
With a little sacrifice
We jammin till the jammin’s through

Rent a scooter, $9 for the day until 8pm. Lady says the rice field I’m looking for is on the road to the Blue Lagoon. It is. But I’m here at the wrong time of year as the paddy is bone dry. What do I know about rice? Not much.

The Blue Lagoon is more of a ditch. A local swimming hole turned tourist attraction. People line up to climb ladders into a big tree. Mostly package tourists from China, Korea, and Japan. The tall branch is pretty high up, at least 5 meters, maybe more. Once up there, they look terrified, but there is no other way down, so they jump anyways.

Ain’t no rules, ain’t no vow
We can do it anyhow
I and I will see you through

I’m hanging out on the lower branch with my camera, when a female Tarzan arrives. Well hello there, you’re kind of different aren’t you?. Everyone else is wearing lifejackets and lycra bodysuits.. But not Tarzan Girl, her swimsuit looks like a loin cloth. She’s got the outfit but not the guts. I tease, “Are you scared?”

She peers at the water below and replies in broken English, “I want jump.”

I laugh. “Okay. You jump, I take your photo.”

She looks at my camera, looks at me, and says, “How I get photo?”

“Meet me at the Bob Marley bar tonight.”

She smiles. She jumps.

We jammin
We jammin
And I hope you like jammin too

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