January 28, 2009
Vang Vieng, Laos

I'm essentially in the Cancun of Asia. The lure here is not to experience the culture, but to engage in the constant cycle of party - hangover - party. People as young as 17 are grabbing small inner tubes to float down a 4km stretch of the Nam Song river. Though the distance is short, this takes a full day; there isn't much floating, more paddling back and forth from bank to bank to climb ashore to grab a beer and a shot at all of the bars. Most of these spots consist of a dock and a scrappy wooden shack slinging Beer Lao and, something firey, in a little plastic cup. The atmosphere is wild; girls are climbing up shoddy ladders to ride a makeshift zipline over the center of the river, only to be aggressively flung off once they hit the break in the center of the line. The many horror stories of broken ribs and sights of boys in board shorts on crutches made me reconsider this adventure and watch from the safety of the ground.