Two Aussie tourist deaths in a month, both in the same jungly, boozy party town in Laos: Vang Vieng.
Both the U.K. and Australian tabloids are overly fond of "Holiday in Hell"-style pieces describing well-meaning travelers sucked into some Southeast Asian third-world hell scenario.
But the recent scrutiny of Vang Vieng in the Aussie press is probably warranted.
Once a remote base of operations for CIA-backed guerrillas, the town is now a major backpacker destination. You go to Vang Vieng to rent an inner tube, float down a chocolate-brown river and, with the help of farmers-turned-bartenders set up along the shore, get totally plastered.
It's all great fun provided you aren't fatally injured or you don't go missing -- the fates of the two Aussie tourists, according to news.com.au. If travelers do run into trouble, they're a full five hours along potted roads to the Lao capital, Vientiane, which is not known for its world-class healthcare. Laos is among Southeast Asia's poorer countries and has the hospitals to match.