On this day in 2011….Kayaking in Vang Vieng #Otdi2011


Kayaking today, although the real attraction for the trip was the chance to go tubing through a river that cut through a cave, with nothing but our headlamps and a rope guide to keep us on track. Which we did, and it was laugh. A nice bit of effortless fun before heading down river in our boats. It was only when we got to the first few populated spots on the river that we realized how much we’d missed out on our first trip down in the tubes and why it had been relatively quiet on our first day. Most people start up here around 2pm boozing it up until they have to make their way down at rapid speed. Or alternatively pay no attention to the 6pm curfew.


Our entrance into the melee from the stream was far from being a good one. We had done so well over the last few kilometres but as soon as we came in front of all the crowds, we got caught on a submerged shingle bay in the middle of the river. The instructor was calling at us, but we could not hear him for the jeers from all the pissed up onlookers leering at us from the bamboo platforms above on either side. This is a nightmare. One lad (American I think), a right proper fat fuck, jumped from the nearest ledge into the river. At first I thought he was on his way to help, and I gladly handed out my paddle for him to get on with us. But no, he jumped on our boat turning us over. Luckily all our belongings were safe and wrapped up, but he didn’t know. Once we got back in, slightly miffed at being bullied by a Sceptic (and one with ginger hair too!!), I looked for my paddle. While the oath clambered back up to his wooden throne (where he’d now be heralded a legend throughout the day), I gave the thumbs up to the crowd with big stupid ‘oh-you-got-me’ grin.

It was pretty funny, more so had it been somebody else, though I still dreamed of how good it would’ve been had I not responded with smiles but a crushing paddle knocking all his front teeth out, and then raising my oar in triumphant before cruising down the river to cheers from all the understanding onlookers. For the sake of this journal it would’ve been great – but of course I didn’t, that would’ve been totally unnecessary..

Would people blame me though? What if I told them I had lost or damaged my camera? I certainly could have won them over. God I hope there weren’t any Bainos up there. At the age of 23, you’d think I was out of the woods of being a victim akin to that of an episode of Inbetweeners.

Once safely drying off at a fire by one of the other bucket bars, we swapped mushroom stories with two Northerners. I exchanged my Brit awards experience for theirs, which involved staggering around Vang Vieng thinking they were both cowboys in the Wild West. It was a fare trade I think and as it was nice and warm, I threw in our humiliating capsizing ordeal.

The only river obstacle on the way home came in the form of a horde of swimming cattle that engulfed our tiny flock of kayaks.

It was decided; tomorrow we would come back up with our tubes and start from here. This is where it was at. Today was our Dunkirk. Tomorrow would be victory.


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