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Vientiane

semi-overcast 25 °C

As it turned out the early bus wasn’t a big problem, since we fell asleep at a ridiculously early 6:30, so we woke up at about 6 the next morning! We certainly had deserved that 11 hours in bed!! After showering, we went to the bus station, via the morning market, where we bought chicken on a stick, sticky rice and doughnuts for breakfast.
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It was very tasty, and we felt very local, munching on our chicken and waiting for our bus! The 7:30 bus eventually came at 8:15 – we’re so used to Laos/Cambodian time now that it didn’t even really phase us – and we (just) managed to find two seats together. The bus rapidly filled up, with lots of plastic stools down the aisle and quite a few people standing too. But it’s OK, it was a VIP bus, so we’d paid 60,000kip (only £5, but far more than other buses) to be in luxury...oh wait, the air con was broken. Plus, there were no windows because of the “air-con” which meant it was hot, stuffy and smelly, and they played loud Lao ballads on the television the whole way there, which were all awful and all the same (although some of the video storylines were fairly amusing). Needless to say, that’s the last time we’re getting a VIP bus, and we were very happy when, 6 hours later, we arrived in Vientiane.

Once we arrived, we were helpfully bundled into a shared jumbo (big tuk-tuk) which took us into the city centre. We walked to the guesthouse we’d picked out from our Lonely Planet, which in the 3 years since our guidebook was written has gotten rather more swish, and we ended up in their new extension, Mixay Paradise. Our room was 80,000kip a night (a whole $10, £7), but we were placated by the free breakfast, free wifi, nice downstairs seating area, and hot power shower in the (shared) bathroom. Mmmmm! Definitely worth the extra! They even ha a lift and everything. Wow!!
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We went out for a walk, and were shocked by how modern and western Vientiane feels. We were expecting another Siem Reap, but it’s much more built up, and so much more shiny, from the carefully maintained gardens, to the modern eateries everywhere, to the promenade that they’re just doing up, it felt like there was a lot more money around than anywhere we’ve been for a while.
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We went and got lunch at a restaurant called Lao Kitchen, which was a little overpriced, but fairly tasty. We had one coconutty curry type thing that was very tasty, and one tasty but stressful soup thing, that had these weird peas, buffalo skin, etc in it. We were unsure about that one!! We went back to the hotel and chilled for a couple of hours, then in the evening went for another walk around Vientiane. We went for curry for dinner, and then went to sleep at about 8:30pm, despite promising ourselves earlier that we’d make the most of being somewhere with lights in the evening! We’re hopeless!
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The next day, we woke up at 7am, far too early for tourist land, and so went for a wander around several of the nearby Wats (temples).
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Then we went back for breakfast at our hotel,
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and then went out to Patuxai, a large monument that’s Laos’s answer to the Arc D’Triumph, and was built out of a load of concrete that the Americans gave Laos to build a aeroplane runway! The views from the top were lovely, and then we wandered down back to the centre along a road that, as the guidebook puts it, “is sometimes (very) generously described at the Champs Elysees of the East”!
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We also went to Talat Sao, the morning market, a few more Wats, past the presidential palace, and to some random monument they’re building on the river (don’t know what it’s for – like I said, our guidebook is old – but all the locals seemed to love it, with lots of flowers and bowing going on!).

For lunch, we treated ourselves to a rather expensive all you can eat meal...but it was SUSHI. Yum, yum, yum! And 85,000 kip ($10, £7) isn’t that much really!! Plus, we certainly did justice to it. Mmmmmm!
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Just some of our sushi!

In the afternoon, we chilled out to allow our (very full) stomachs to recover. We watched television, read, went on the internet and skyped our parents (once Susie’s mum finally bothered to come online. Humph). Very lazy we’re sure, but we think we’ve deserved it after all our long journeys and our time at Ban Khoun Kham! In the evening, we wanted a small meal, so we ended up sharing a curry again. Teehee! Very tasty, but we got cross at the sneaky way the man there tricked us into paying lots for water, grrr, so we’re now eschewing all Nazim Indian restaurants. A shame because there’s one everywhere and they’re tasty, but we’ll find better ones!

We also realised that evening that we’d made a bit of a woops....in the morning we’d handed in our passports to the hotel to sort our Vietnam visas (you can’t get them at any overland borders) which we were getting back at 4:30pm the next day. No problem, until we decided in the afternoon we’d leave on the afternoon bus the next day, bought our tickets, and then suddenly realised that leaving 3 hours before our passports arrived wasn’t the brightest idea ever. The hotel staff were really nice about it, and helpfully offered to send them on the bus the day after, which we (slightly worriedly) agreed to. Let’s just hope the system works!!

On our final morning in Vientiane, we went on a long, 5km each way, walk to Pha That Luang, Laos’s most famous and important monument. All well and good, but it wasn’t that interesting – just a pointy gold blob – and women had to pay 10000kip to rent a Lao style skirt to go in. Boo, like we were going for that sexist trap (it made Susie very cross). As we were leaving, we bumped into Jenny, the lady we were volunteering with at Grace House, and who is travelling Laos the opposite way to us! Was nice to see her, but she’s on a tour, so had to head off after a quick catch up chat. Very random to see her out off everyone in Laos!!
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We then walked back to the centre, via a locals market (where Susie got even more disgruntled because she needs new flip flops, but no nice ones fit her because Lao women have little feet), and past the gardens near the Patuxai monument (where Susie was dehydrated, so even even more cross. Not a good morning!). We bumped into Jenny again at the monument, and then went back to the hotel, where we packed up (everything except our passports....), went and got lunch (we really branched out, and got....curry! From a cheaper, and just as nice place, so we felt vindicated against the nasty water). Then we sat and waited for our bus for Vang Vieng!

Posted by Susiep539 17:58 Archived in Laos Tagged laos vientiane patuxai vientiene mixay_paradise nazim_indian Comments (0)

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