After raining all night we woke to grey skies but at least there was no water streaming from the heavens. We enjoyed our breaky then prepared ourselves for the day of water sports. Well no that's not really correct because the tubing we were about to experience is really the furthest thing to any sport. We would probably be exerting more effort in walking to the tube hire shop. We set off with only money in our pocket as we didn't want to lose the camera or anything else. However at the shop just up from our hotel we noticed they were selling dry bags. We paid 50,000 Kip, which only equates to a few dollars, then returned to the room to grab the camera & a few other things. Of course the quality would be a little dubious but we were sure it would get us through the day. We arrived at the tubing office at 11.30am & paid 50,000 Kip to hire each tube then a 60,000 deposit. If we returned the tube by 6pm we would get our full refund. After this time they keep 20,000 Kip, just another way to make money for them. We then signed a waiver that they would not be held responsible if anything happened to us, then wrote a number in English & Laotian on our wrists, presumably to identify bodies as they fished them out of the river if something went wrong. We had numbers 22 & 23 so it obviously wasn't the busiest day. Included in our hire cost was transport 4 km's upstream to the start point. We shared our ride with 4 Asian guys but they weren't very talkative. We arrived at the river & prepared to jump on our tyre tubes. Up until the start of this year the whole scene here was pretty crazy. They could get up to a thousand people floating downstream every day in peak season. Littered along the banks were lots of ramshackle bars & huge swings & slides. The bars sold cheap alcohol & drug infused shakes & plied the tourists with free shots to keep them at the bars. Of course people started to die simply because you can't stop idiots being idiots. I have no sympathy for those that died, but I do for the Laotian locals who had to deal with the fallout. I think it was something like 22 people died here last year. So as a result a lot of countries put pressure on the Laos government who had to act. They tore down a lot of the bars & all the slides. The drugs don't exist at the bars along the river anymore & even in town the establishments have to close by midnight. Let's get back to our adventure though as we stepped into the warm river about 12pm. We travelled all of about 50 metres when we were being thrown ropes & pulled into the first bar. We left the water & climbed to the first bar to the sound of loud music. We got to the top to find a scene of emptiness. There were four people sitting at a table having a few drinks but that's it. We said hi as we walked past but they didn't seem that friendly so we grabbed some tiger whiskey & coke, which was happily poured by a seven year old girl, then sat on the edge soaking in the surroundings. The fast flowing river had huge rocky cliffs covered in jungle towering over it, the sort of view that you could never get sick of. We finished our drinks & decided to continue. It took Jac a little bit to get back into the current as she doesn't have her tubing license yet, but eventually we were underway again. This time we got to go at least 100 metres before we were roped into the second bar. Once again this bar was deserted except for the Asians we had shared the ride with. We got our free shots, ordered another drink & a plate of chips. We spent probably 40 minutes here before moving on again. It was about another 100 metres to the next bar but there was no one there to rope us in. I made it to the steps ok but Jac overshot the mark owing to her tube control issues. Luckily though it was shallow & she just walked back. I went to check out the bar but apart from a family eating lunch there was nobody here either. I said hi to the bar staff who didn't return my greeting so we decided not to stay & returned to the river. Another 100 metres & we arrived at the final bar. Once again there was no rope being thrown. We made it to the landing site though & climbed to the bar. It was dead but that didn't matter as the staff were very friendly. We ordered some drinks then started playing with their little puppies, who had the bluest of eyes, & chatted to the staff. After sitting watching the river we retired to the hammocks they had set up. We drank more & chatted over the next few hours until about 50 tubers arrived from about 4pm. The alcohol started to hit Jac so she slept it off as I went & played soccer in the mud with the crowd. Well I didn't play that much as I just leaned against the goals with a drink in hand chatting to people, & kicked the ball away when it came close. Of course that didn't stop me getting covered in mud as the whole game degenerated into pretty much a mud wrestle. This is probably the most exciting soccer has ever been. After everyone got filthy enough I washed off then returned to the hammock to replenish my drink & chat to others. Before I knew it 5.30pm had come so it was time to head back to town. I roused Jac & we boarded our tubes for the 3.5 km's float back to town. It was just so beautiful & relaxing spending the last hour floating down river amongst spectacular scenery like this. Of course we didn't make it back in time to get our full refund but that didn't matter. We had experienced something that is a rite of passage on the backpacker trail in Asia, minus all the debauchery & danger that had preceded us. It was beautiful & relaxing & we are glad we made the stop. We headed back to our hotel to shower then make our way back out to dinner. Jac wasn't feeling good so we needed to get some food into her. Around town they have numerous restaurant bars where you can lie down & they play continuous reruns of either Friends or Family Guy. We picked one near the tubing office & we stretched out. We ordered some buffalo steaks for dinner which came with our fruit shakes. They were pretty amazing & Jac immediately felt better. We spent a couple of hours watching Friends & just relaxing allowing Jac to recover. Finally we returned home sad that this was to be our last night here. If we could we would have adjusted the next couple of days to remain here, but it's not to be as we have already paid for accommodation in Vientiane & don't have the money to give up a night we have paid for. So we will just have to be content with the short amount of time we have spent here. The town is just so relaxed with lots of places to go in town & just enough people wandering around to keep it busy. Not sure if we will ever come back here but at least we leave with great floating memories.