Vientiane in a day

Vientiane Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 10 › view all entries

The thought of having only one day to explore the entire captial city of Laos stressed me for a while... til I stepped out of the grotto that is my hotel and checked out the map and the 'main street' and realised I was probably going to be done by lunchtime!

It is the most laidback, UN-bustling capital city ever. Well, except perhaps for Canberra but not sure if that even counts. There's more chickens and buffalo on the roads than cars and the Vientiane government hasn't discovered (or bothered with) proper drainage or sewerage systems- there's wide open sewers where the footpath is meant to be. This, combined with the lack of streetlights makes it somewhat treacherous at night and the unsuspecting traveller could faceplant into a drain. Not that I did, of course...

I basically spent the day wandering fairly aimlessly (there's little choice in Vientiane because there's  no street signs and the map bears NO resemblance to the actual city layout. The most exciting part of the day was when I got a little bit...uh... waylaid in the back of some laneway somewhere only to discover a rundown old building with 'Service Nationale Geographique' on top- I walked past a bunch of guys with uniforms and big guns (they're everywhere in Vientiane for some reason- rogue buffalo?) and inside was this ancient old lady who spoke French, yay! I managed get her to give me maps of Laos in a 1:100000 scale, five in total, for only 25 000 kip, which is about $3. SO EXCITED!!! For those of  you who don't understand my joy, foreigners aren't allowed properly detailed maps of a scale so good as 1:100000 of Laos, and from what I could work out before I left Australia, noone is allowed the map with 'sensitive border' areas on Burma and China.... feeling very much like a spy I had a good look at them back in the hotel and they are beautiful! Perhaps made even more so by the 'SECRET' marked in capitals on each one of them! Aaaaahh.... I love maps...

Anyways, that's about it. Had another massage, and packed up for flight home tomorrow via Bangkok. See you all there.


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photo by: skydiver