Vang Vieng, Laos
Today was another lazy day like yesterday, focusing on my recovery rather than seeing sights. I did feel much healthier than yesterday, although still very much under the weather. I spent the morning and some of the afternoon in the hotel room, trying to update the website through the painfully slow internet speed I’ve been forced to cope with. At 15:00, I left the hotel room to eat a late lunch and early dinner; I first walked up the stairs to the roof of the hotel to get a view of the entire town before walking all the way down and exiting the hotel; next, I walked to the Nam Song River to see the view offered by its shore; finally, I found a decent-looking restaurant to eat lunch (it also had a faster wifi speed than the hotel); for my meal, I had a large Namkhong beer (another Laotion-brewed beer), a banana and coffee shake (the fusion of these two flavors intrigued me, but it fell short of my expectations), and a hamburger with fries (the beef patty was overcooked, but the herbs and spices used helped to elevate it slightly above plainfully-boring). After lunch, I walked back through the town of Vang Vieng, a town that grew in size during the Vietnam War thanks to the United States Airbase that was built there to allow one of several operating bases for Air America; now Vang Vieng’s growth relies almost entirely on backpackers coming here to float down the Nam Song River in tubes and bar-hop on their way down the river; a few years ago this place used to be somewhat of a legend from all the drunk antics that occurred on the river, but the government has recently cracked down in order to stop all the deaths and serious injuries (there are sharp rocks on the riverbed that drunk tourists would frequently crash in to after coming down a slide or rope swing) and now there are only four bars open on the river and the slides and rope swings have been removed (from what I have read on the internet – I was still too ill to see for myself, and I’m somewhat glad I didn’t do it since I understand many criminals operate in the bars and tubing rental business here); I suppose it makes sense that bar-hopping while tubing would become popular here since Laos is a land-locked country with no beaches or islands to party and get wild on (e.g. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.). Anyway, I walked back to my hotel room after buying some drinks and snacks at a local mini-mart; I then remained in my room for the rest of the day, excluding a short break I took to see the sunset from the hotel’s roof. I sincerely hope that my health will return in full, so that I may continue, unhindered, with my present peregrination.