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Experiences in Asia

Vientiane: almost a city!

LAOS | Friday, 25 November 2005 | Views [775]

Here I am in the capital, Vientiane, enjoying my first day after the 10 or so hour ride from Luang Prabang.

Yesterday (seems so long ago!) I was up early at 5.30am to have a bit of breakfast and then to get outside and meet the tuk tuk at 6.30am who would drive me to the bus station. This was all arranged previously with the travel agent, who said that it was a good idea booking with her because the ticket to V. included this service. It would have been great, but for the fact that the tuk tuk was a no-show. As my watch nervously approached 7am, I decided to bum a lift of another driver, who got me to the station and on the bus with minutes to spare - thank you very much dodgy travel agent!

Now, I'm all for getting away from Mr Whitey and travelling with the locals, and because of this I was looking forward to the ride, but not the roads. I actually wondered if the bus could cope with the ride. The Hyundai brand have something to be proud of, because this partcular model was about 30 years old, and had seen better days. The inside skin on the ceiling was coming down, and more than one traveller looked nervously to the roof every now and then to make sure that it wasn't going to come down on them the next pot-hole we hit. But the bus made it. I had also have heard horror stories from other travellers about sick bags and the pumping Lao techno that the driver plays, and guess what? - This trip was no different!

As soon as we left the station, me, happily reading Potter 5, was assaulted with some of the loudest Lao pop / techno music possible! Some of the tunes were actually quite catchy, not not at 7.30am! Not long after that, the attendant passed out a few sick bags, and one poor old lady took this as her queue, retching for a good while behind me. Thus, I thought it was high time to plug in my fully charged ipod and stare out of the window at some of the fabulous sights. Driving along the dirt road, being bounced along to the wafting smell of sick was no issue - the views of the mountains was simply amazing. Before I knew it, three hours had dissapeared. After a few more tunes on my pod and a chapter or two of potter, we arrived in V.

The night was spent basically chilling with a cold beer in front of the Mekong with Florian, another lone traveller who is German-Thai. He is travelling a bit of Laos before heading back into Thailand tomorrow to meet up with his family. He is fluent in god knows how many languages, and it is quite entertaining to watch him speak fluent Thai to the amazement of the Lao people (Lao and Thai being similar).

And so to today. Up early, we hired some push bikes to explore a bit of this pleasantly strange capital. V. is almost a city. I haven't come across and industry (perhaps out of town, who knows) and the centre itself is quite small, perhaps the size of Chester city centre. We do know that we are in a capital from the tarmac on the roads, the street lights and the hot water (thank god) but the pace of life is still thankfully slow, and the Lao people seem just as happy whizzing around on their push bikes, flitting the time away by the Mekong. I like this idea of life!

So to today, we saw the Revolutionary museum (quite communist), the grand temple and some other sights. We also had a bit of a conversation with a monk who was really eager to practise his English. He told us a bit about the temple and his daily life. He asked us to eat a dinner for him, because he was a little hungry. Monks, it now seems only eat twice a day, in the early morning and the afternoon. The rest of the day is spent studying.

Tonight, who knows? I think Kari is supposed to make a stop here shortly, but I am not sure when. I think a bit of dinner, and then, obviously, a drink or two of Laos best product, Beer Lao.

I think in the next two days I will make the trip into Vietnam..........

Tags: Adventures

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