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Battered Suitcase “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” Jack Kerouac

All the good things of France, without (as many) French!

LAOS | Wednesday, 27 May 2009 | Views [1537] | Comments [2]

Ou est la biblioteque?  Croque monsieur!  These are a few of the many French turns of phrase I have picked up here in Laos's capital, Vientiane.  The French influence is apparent in the wide, tree-lined streets and abundant fragrant bakeries.  It is a lovely Parisian style town, made even more lovely by the dearth of Parisians.

Christopher and I had planned on tubing the river in Vang Vieng yesterday, but thanks to the remnants of a tropical cyclone (thanks a lot, monsoon season) our plans were looking to be rained out, so we caught a bus to Vientiane instead.  The "VIP bus" we paid for was a model of Communist splendor, complete with ragged, stained seats and broken air conditioning.  Not the most pleasant ride, but when we arrived in town our luck took a turn for the better.  The place we had planned to stay in was full, but had a sister hotel just around the block.  Quelle luck!  The other place turned out to be a gorgeous, brand-new hotel that, at 30 bucks a night, was comparable to a four-star hotel in the US.  "Free coffee and tea at check-in?  Why, thank you!  What is this, a shower door the closes??  We don't have umbrellas... oh, we can use the hotel's for the day?"  After the flea-bag dump that was Vang Vieng, this place is like heaven.

The city itself has also been great, despite the ongoing drizzle during the day.  After breakfast at the hotel, I asked the desk manager if he thought it would continue all day.  He walked outside with me, looked around pensively, then his shoulders dropped as he sighed, "yes."  He seemed genuinely sorry about the dreary weather, and I think the loaner umbrellas were a gesture of concilliation.  Guarded against the weather, Christopher and I struck out into the heart of town, located about one block from our posh hotel.  The first wat we visited was hosting a monk conference, quite an interesting sight.  We also checked out the presidential palace, the oldest wat in town housing thousands of Buddha statues, and another wat surrounded by a gorgeous English-style (inexplicably) garden.  My personal favorite, however, was our stop at the national history museum.  In addressing the term "history," the Laotians were determined to do justice, beginning the tour with dinosaur bones, progressing to pottery shards, and then using the last half to demonstrate the evilness of the US imperialist and the glory of the People's Republic, including "the production of vegetables for improve the health of the people" (read: farming) and a display of a stuffed leopard.  The rain might not stop anytime soon, but I've got cable TV and baguettes and my friends that means we're doing alright.

Tags: laos, vientiane



Great report from behind the Bamboo Curtain - keep 'em coming! Quick updates from the home front: The Canes got swept by the Penguins and hockey got swept from my sports plate right into the garbage can. Wait til next year, eh! Former Gov. Sleasley is under investigation by the feds for corruption. Should be entertaining. Not quite Blago level but pretty good. Obama nominated Saltalamacchia or Sottovoce or something like that to the SC to replace Souter, who's going back to live with mommy (weirdo). Mr. Steve smoked a couple of meatloafs (meatloaves? meatsloaf?) for Memorial Day. Totally off the charts but incredibly delicious.

Love you like Maury said I was the real father.

  Didymus May 28, 2009 4:44 AM


a baguette and a hotel room? who do you think you are, Milner?

... wait, Milner can read this? um... awwwwkwaaaard

  Marlee May 29, 2009 7:37 AM

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