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Clamore in Asia

Stucked in Vientiane, in the heart of Laos

ITALY | Monday, 25 May 2015 | Views [101] | Scholarship Entry

Vientiane had been depicted to me as a city a little anonymous, according to many even boring and uninteresting. But having Laos as main goal of my trip, I did not want to skip it. The week I spent there gave me the opportunity to live the city quietly, go exploring hidden corners and places attended only by locals. Vientiane is marked by the blue of the Mekong, by the orange fluttering robes of the monks, the vivid colors of its temples, the peeling paint of the colonial buildings and the heights of the government palaces. Vientiane smells of incense and frangipani, freshly baked bread and street food, echoes with the chants of the monks and the air is filled with tuk tuk blaring and laughter of the students. These are the top things not to be missed in Vientiane in my opinion. 1 - Explore the sights by bike: Vientiane is the largest city in Laos but it's safe and easy to explore by bicycle.The bike is the best way to reach the Patuxai with its famous musical fountain and nearby gardens. From there you reach the Pha That Luang, the most important monument in Laos. 2 - Immerse yourself in its many temples: Vientiane is a city full of temples and the presence of the monks is a permanent feature. The most important temples are Wat Si Saket, Haw Pha Kaeo and Wat Si Muang. 3 - A visit to the COPE: This center tells an important (and little known) piece of Lao history: it is home to a visitor center with multimedia rooms that tell the still topical problem of UXO, which in Laos cause casualties and victims still every day. 4) The evening along the Mekong: During the day bare and little animated, in the evening the Mekong embakement transforms and it seems that all Vientiane people move in here: just before sunset its inhabitants are here to run along the river, to do aerobics or group dances. Craving for something traditional? On Saturday afternoon you can go to the Wat Sok Pa Luang, a temple just outside the city, where from 4 pm to 5 pm you can do vipassana meditation with the monks, alternating sitting and walking meditation. If you're in Vientiane when it is not too hot yet (for example, between December and January), you can go and try the traditional Laotian herbal sauna. I opted for Herbal Sauna, a very basic small sauna center near the river. The sauna is a cabin with a tray containing local herbs; you just have to alternate sauna sessions with cold showers and green tea sipping: the effect is invigorating!

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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