I'm humbled to say I fell victim to judging a place before I got there. Due to comments from Lonely Planet and other travellers I was fully prepared to hate Vang Vieng and only spend 1 days there - I'd even started to form my blog post on it. 4 days later and I'm happily eating my words. Bit of background. Not too long ago I believe Vang Vieng was just another bamboo village you would pass by on the dirt road from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. Once Luang Prabang (another amazing place - like Hoi An built in Sapa, without people constantly trying to sell you crap you don't want) was opened to tourists in the late 80's that Vang Vieng's proximity to amazing limestone peaks and rivers made it ideal for ecotourism (hate that word) in many shapes and forms. Unfortunately as the town grew it has become the Bizarro Laos, trying too hard to accommodate Western tastes and losing any Lao authenticity it ever had. Most places to eat at are TV bars, with all the tables, well lounging benches, pointing at a TV playing 'Friends' DVD's all day long. All the menus are identical, churning out poor quality pizza's, hamburgers and baguettes - while the towns proper restaurants that produce amazing and cheap Lao food get little to no patronage. However, if you look past the town and see what the region has to offer in the form of kayaking, rock climbing, caving etc you can have an absolute ball. One main attraction is the tubing, one of the most fun things I've ever done - I did it twice. One Norwegian guy I met had done it 6 times! You're driven 3km out of town and dropped off at the river with an innertube with the sole purpose of floating downriver back into town. As you mosey on down, a number of farmers have built bars/contraptions where you stop for a drink and play on the rope swings/zip lines/diving boards. The best one - a 15m high rope swing was incredible - the speed and height you reach is amazing. I'm also proud to note I was the only one to pull off a double flip off that one *AND* get applause from the locals. I was even taught 'good swing' in Lao! The final section when the sun sets as you get back into town is sublime. So there you go, I never thought I was the type of person to judge something sight unseen - I guess that's another traveler's lesson. Coming up: Next blog post on how Patrick has grown: 'Why I don't hate stupid people anymore'...... Nah, I hate 'em more, stay tuned.