Still in Vientiane...

Vientiane Travel Blog

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After arriving in Vientiane on Wednesday i continued to be ill and therefore stayed mostly in my hotel room for about 3 days...venturing out only to try and eat some food etc.  Very nauseus, coming on suddenly and then passing...I managed to make a visit to the Lao National History museum, very low key and a bit dowdy, but the bits on the history of laos, with the french dominance and then the americans bombing, was very interesting to see ...could also see how proud the Laos' are of their development, lots of cabinets full of medicine/armery etc etc.  And then I went on a trip on Saturday, travelling by Tuk Tuk to the wat Sok Pa Luang, 2km outisde the centre, in a sort of mini forest...there to experience a meditation sitting...apparently foreigners are welcome, but i arrived and couldn't see any or find anyone to speak English!  But i got to the temple and sat down and other fallang arrived...sat on square mats and listened to one of the monks who had good English but his pronunciation was a bit robotic, making it hard to understand.  He explained the basics of mediatation, breathing...which we did for 20mins, and then walking meditation where we had to concentrate on each movement of our feets as we walked and then another 20min meditation.  We asked a few questions and then as it got dark I waited with a Dutch girl and got a tuk tuk back to the centre with her.  Went out at about 8pm to get some food but had a nauseus spell again...a Laos guy ran up and wanted to talk, practice English but i arranged to meet the next day as i felt too ill to speak.

Sunday morning I rented a bike and cycled down to the morning market, and bought what i thought/hope is a silver necklace for $15 and then carried on down to the mini Arc de Triomphe, called Patuxai, big road leading to it, but very ugly when standing under it, built in 1965 i think.  Went to the top to see the views and then got back on my bike and cycled further down to the Pha That Luang...apparently the most important national monument in laos...this is a massive glod monument, very striking.  Couple of temples around it.  Met Ley at 3.30 where i'd bumped into the night before and we went and sat by the Mekong and watched the sun go down...whilst trying some local fish from the river, which was delicious :-)

On Monday morning I went with Ley on his bike to a Buddha Park around 25km from the centre of town...this was a very impressive sight, even though quite small.  First confronted by a massive pot, with a large mouth you can climb through, walk up 3 levels and then out a tiny whole of the top...very strange?!  and then lots and lots of other strange statues, all with symbolic meaning that i'm not quite sure what.  i think they were from the time of the king (this is what i got from Ley)...elephant with 3 heads, a massive frog with the sun in its mouth, a monster holding the queen in its hand, a mermaid, lots of buddha statues....Then went back to the Friendship bridge, contects Laos with Thailand across the Mekong...walked across to the centre (bridge total of 1km) and then back again...and then on back to 'Laos Cultural Centre'.  Not mentioned in the Lonely planet and i can see why...very odd place...sort of a mini zoo with a few poor monkeys chained in cages, 2 very mangy ostriches, an empty swimming pool, closed down restaurant and half built temple???! Sat there for a while again by the mekong and had some noodles (very disapointed to see that Laos peolpe cook there noodles from packets, similar to pot least i know i won't get ill from them like this though!).  In the evening I had dinner at the Taj mahal restaurant (nice indian, but think my stomach not quite ready for such rich food) and then went to a very popular bar along the river, on the 4th floor and full of falang (well single men looking with prostitutes i think)...then went with Ley to Top nightclub about 1km out of the centre...i was the only falang in the whole place, never been stared at so much, felt quite scared!  Everyone else black hair!  Played american R&B and then dance stuff, then lincoln park.

Tuesday I tried to sort out a flight to Vietnam as decided there is no way i was going to do the coach ride from hell that i have heard so much about...travelling for 29 hours all the way to hanoi as opposed to 1hour flying (even though this does go against my flying principles)....think managed to get one on Laos airways...again not sure this is soo good either, as american embassy advises not to fly with them...?! 3 internal flight crashes from 1990 or something.....then went swimming at swimming pool rnoted in the Lonely Planet...soooo dirty, but nice to cool down a bit as very hot in Vientiane 

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photo by: skydiver