Vang Vieng is the one place in Laos I swore I wouldn’t visit while I was in Southeast Asia. The small town is known for drunken (and often drugged) backpackers tubing down the river, and the party scene did not appeal to me. But I was in need of some company and started traveling with a girl named Jo who wanted to stop there in order to break up the long journey from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. It turned out to be the right decision, and although we did not participate in any intoxicated activities, we did soberly float down the river in tubes. The scenery was gorgeous, and luckily we started early enough (noon is early in a town where almost everyone is wasted) that we were almost the only people on the river.