Wandering on the Way — Vang Vieng, Laos

“Wandering randomly,

I know not what I seek.

In my madness,

I know not where I go.

The wanderer, in his perplexity,

Observes the unexpected.”

-Chuang Tzu "Wandering on the Way"

It was dark as we plodded along the dirty lanes of Vang Vieng, the path before us illuminated by the flickering bulb of the nearest banana pancake stand.

The grid was down, and our receptionist told us the power would be back by 6 PM. It was now 8, and the only power in the 10-block radius came from the one bar clever enough to invest in a generator.

It was packed, the squeaky voice of Ross and the laugh track from “Friends” barely audible over the whir of the generator and the hum of its lounging patrons.

As we passed, I wondered why everyone liked Friends so much.

My thoughts turned quickly to the next stretch of darkness. Ahead, more sandwich and pancake carts dotted the roadside like welcoming beacons of safety, promising culinary ecstasy for the stoned and stumbling crowd that wandered around bleary-eyed and shell-shocked, having survived another day of tubing and heavy drinking.

A group of Dutch girls emerged from the night, laughing at an unknown joke, or maybe at the shirtless Aussie dude in drunken fetal on our left — my head swiveled sub-consciously after the girls. Bad head.

Meanwhile, we climbed steadily up the slope, the unvoiced destination looming ahead of us at last. The bucket about to be ours.






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5 thoughts on “Wandering on the Way — Vang Vieng, Laos

  1. So glad that I discovered your blog, love how you tell a story. Good stuff man.

    • j.young says:

      Thank you, that means a lot. I’m really loving your blog as well, your editing style is right up my alley, awesome work.

    • j.young says:

      Thank you! It’s from “Wandering on the Way” translated by Mair. It’s full of brilliant Chinese gems like that if you’re interested.

  2. thriftydrifter says:

    oh god, i remember Vang Vieng….What a crazy place. Sometimes, when I’m hard at work, saving for my next trip,while a customer is being thanklessly high-maintance or my boss is berating me for not being in two places at once, I’ll cast away my consciousness to somewhere like Vang Vieng, where someone is eating a magic pizza and another person is flying through the air from a precariously teetering 30 foot high platform, and a DJ is playing RIck Astley side by side with the latest Gaga hit while someone else drops their pants and takes a picture on front of the “No Smoking Weed or Naked Swimming” sign 🙂 Miss it. Thanks for taking me back….for buckets.

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