Last time, we had just crossed the Laos border and had boarded a boat to float down the Mekong River. We had been told that this part of the trip would be the serene calm before the storm and to rest up as much as we could on the two-day journey.
Then it would get crazy.
THEN IT GETS CRAZY
Remember our earlier rant about the dark side of tourism? Bearing that in mind, buckle up for the town of Vang Vieng in Laos. Long heralded by our backpacker pals as “the craziest part of your trip hands down” this town boasted river tubing insanity followed by the most dangerous bars you have ever never heard of and the most lax drug laws you will ever see in your life.
This one night we made our way to The Island in Vang Vieng. Most of the City – and indeed most of the Country – had reasonably enforced curfews at various early times of the night, owing to strict Government rule and a desire to save the tourists from themselves.
But not The Island the locals told us. “Everything goes on The Island until whenever it is you decide to go home.” And so sure as the Gods made Jordan Eberle superior to us all, The Island lived up to its hype as a spit of insanity in the calm waters of Laos.
Then one particular Bar of Death served us all the blindingest buckets money can buy and then announced “the games begin” over the loud speaker.
What were the games exactly? How about doing the Limbo underneath a bar doused in gasoline and lit aflame?! How does that grab you insurance adjusters and liquor inspectors of North America?
We bet you don’t like it at all you tea-drinking dandies. Do you?
If that doesn’t set your survival instincts on Red Alert, how about bar staff giving you raver type dancing ropes, lighting those babies on fire then letting you dance around as you please.
Remember you are on a 7 alarm bender and think that everything is a good idea at this point. And that no one on a 7 alarm bender can dance at all which ordinarily doesn’t matter unless you are swinging around BALLS OF FIRE.
That’s the stuff right there.
WHO WANTS A TARANTULA?
Speaking of crazy. One night our tour guide stood up at the front of the bus and announced “we are going for a group dinner at a restaurant that offers a special delicacy you have to order in advance. Who wants to put their names down for a plate of deep fried Tarantulas?”
If our dearly beloved Grandma knew that we pondered eating deep fried spiders the size of a fist she would have removed her shoe and beat us soundly over the head until we had regained our senses.
But there we were cautiously watching the girls on the tour sampling the hairy beasts and declaring that they “tasted just like crab.” We replied that “crab actually tastes like crab” before throwing caution to the wind and eating one of the monsters ourselves.
The verdict? Tarantulas taste like something approaching edible. The legs were still hairy even though they had been deep fried into the great beyond, but once you got past the fact you were eating the cousin of the star of Charlotte’s Web they were actually reasonably good.
For a guy who can now count grasshopper, cricket and silkworm among things we have “non-accidentally ingested” Tarantula marks the pinnacle of our culinary adventureousness.
And the next time someone says to us “dang Wanye, you are a non-adventurous stick in the mud” we will scream, “tell THAT to the bloody Tarantula we ate in Cambodia you clown!”
Thankfully no one was injured or deathed at The Island and we were able to leave wonderful Laos behind and head into the sobering and beautiful land of Cambodia. After that – back to Phi Phi in Thailand to see if @thesquireyeg and your ol’ pal Wanye can rebuild their shattered lives and livers.