Joachim has been traveling around the world. He left Paris on his 25th birthday, came back one year later in 2010. And you're here on his travel blog.
Since he came back, he started writing a book: 360 in 365 »

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360 in 365 – Joachim voyage autour du monde

360 in 365 – Joachim voyage autour du monde

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Vang Vieng

Ten or so days ago I was in Vangvieng with Johanne and Nico, and their friend Marion. We went there after the Julian New Year (or Western New Year?) celebrations in Vientiane.

Vangvieng is well known in the SE Asian party scene. And when I say “party scene” I’m talking about the places where alcool’s cheaper than water, old women try to sell you pot or opium in the streets and bar waiters are in a shroom-induced daze since they woke up at 4PM of the morning. And from what I’ve been told it’s the world capital of tubing.

What’s tubing? You’re on a tupe (you rent that for about $6 an hour), in the river rapids, and there’s a lot of bars on the river where you can stop play in the rope-swings and jump from the improvised platforms and buy a beer or two while you’re at that bar. It sounds good like a good idea when you’re reading about it : lounging in the sun with a cold beverage in the hand, hearing the birds and the water…

Except that the sun is coming down arount 5:30, so you spend your afternoon getting slowly drunk, and then you can’t enjoy the evening because you’re already so pissed from the alcohol and the sun on your head. So what I say is : it’s not worth it. You should go kayaking and then get drunk on Beer Lao with your friends. And avoid the 20 yo little shits from Australia or the UK who are only there to be the drunkest.

The second big occupation in Vangvieng after tubing is being hungover. In the tourist streets, there are countless “lounge” bars where you just go to watch old Friends and Family Guy episodes while trying to remember “what happend in the Smile Bar after the 18th Beer Lao and this swedish guy who was humping the pool table wait was it a girl I remember the long hair man everything was turning and then the thing with the other thing I remember after the happy pizza” and so on. I could do that in Paris. No need to go half the world to drink too much beer and spend the day after watching not so funny american TV shows. And do that again the next evening. While trying to remember “if it was a Happy Pot Pizza or a Happy Shroom Pizza and why I woke up in a ditch with no money and wet pants, and what happened to that brittish girl who fell from the stage while attempting poleless pole dancing. Man, what an awesome night. I can’t wait to be as pissed today as I was then.”

The third biggest occupation is abusing of brain-melting substances that have the surprising power of attracting the 5-0. The fee of the local police if they catch you smoking pot is $500. Of this round sum, a smaller but equally round sum goes to the guy who sold you that pot. They deal and then they rat you out to the Police. Double income, no hassle about dissatisfied customers… And then they tell you “it’s written in your guesthouse that you shouldn’t smoke pot! Drugs is whack! I pitty the fool who doesn’t read the things written in every guesthouse.” and such things. Man, this lao coffee is making me write silly things. Anyways, it creates jobs in the community (growing pot, selling it) and it injects stupid people’s money into the local economy, so I guess it’s ok. Taxing stupid little shits is something that should have been done long ago. If you want to be clever you smoke in your room, you won’t get caught. That’s what a friend of mine was told by the guesthouse manager who then tried to sell pot to her.

But people forgot that Vangvieng is nice. Between the mountains and the rice fields, the river with fishermen early in the morning, or the sunset with all the little villages and the smoke rising from them, looking strangely like the haze on the mountains in the first lights of the morning…

We went to visit a cave with the gang. We went on foot and then we had to continue longer than we expected because it wasn’t the right cave (there’s lots of caves in the mountains) and then it was beautiful everywhere and there was a lagoon with pure blue water and we stripped to bathing suits and had a good old laugh splashing around with the rope swings and a communion with nature. The cave too was nice, with a reclining buddha in an underground chamber lighted by an opening on the roof, and we went to the end of the cave and played with our headlamps and we tried not to fall to our certain death in hidden holes. An afternoon well spent with great people ; the evening beers were rightfully merited. And some lao-lao too, but only one shot at a time for me, my stomach is having troubles with that substance after a fateful night involving rice wine in crazy Kunming, China.

And after Vangvieng, the french riders took their motorcycle to go eastwards, I went to Luang Prabang, a center of post-colonial tourism by the Mekong River.


  1. Je te crois quand tu dis que tu n’as pas abusé de l’alcool et autres spécialités locales MAIS je crois que tu devrais surveillé ton appareil de plus près parce que lui, visiblement, il a eu du mal à faire la mise au point sur certaines photos !

    Comment by Caroline — Jan 13th, 2010 @ 06:12 PM
  2. bah en fait mon appareil il est un peu comme tout le monde, il fait ce qu’il peut avec ce qu’il a. Le truc c’est que je veux un truc rapide qui ne prenne pas deux heures pour dégainer et prendre la photo… ce serait inopportun au possible. Donc je le rêgle en mise au point en hyperfocale ou snap (2.5m). Et comme parfois 200iso c’est pas assez (ma mesure par défaut sur mon réglage noir et blanc) il me fait des faibles profondeur de champ ou des flous de bouger. Et les photos trop nettes, moi, ça m’emmerde :)
    Et après aussi je regarde pas mes photos à la loupe. Sinon je serais encore en train de retoucher mes photos de Mongolie. Et là, quid de votre divertissement et de votre édification jour après jour?

    Comment by joachim — Jan 14th, 2010 @ 02:02 PM
  3. Jo, j’espère que tu sais que je plaisantais ! J’adore tes photos et je suis toujours pressée et ravie de les découvrir ici :)

    Comment by Caroline — Jan 14th, 2010 @ 09:42 PM
  4. Malgré le flou, je crois d’ailleurs reconnaître certaines personnes ! Incroyable, Marion marche sans rien y voir avec cette mèche devant les yeux…

    Comment by Nico — Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 09:06 PM

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