Vientiane Travel Blog› entry 40 of 55 › view all entries
Today was great, we finally leave Vietnam, and get into Laos! It looks like the country where we will spend the most time, is the one I like the least. Although I can't say for Laos yet, or Thailand really, Vietnam starts to grate after a while, though it has some great cities (Saigon), beaches (Mui Ne), and towns (Dalat, Sapa, Hoi An), it's good to get the 5:15 wake up call, and get on the road to the airport. It takes 45 minutes to get there, and there is a nasty accident, involving a car, and two unmoving bikers. It's the first real accident we've seen, and reminds us that the crazy driving conditions out here do have consequences.
The airport at Hanoi is pretty big, and has a (stupidly expensive) restaurant, so we opt not to eat there, and check in downstairs, where we spot a 4.5L bottle of Jack Daniels for $75, which is the size of a small child! Maybe on the way home.....
I have to recommend Vietnam Airways, the flight was painless (only one hour), and they give you free yoghurt, and water. For $140 it's a good deal! There is also some leg room too, for us big, fat, long-legged Westerners! We get a visa for $35, the price of which is dependant upon which nation you're from, with the ex (and current) communist nations generally getting cheaper visas! We realise later though that ours is a 30 day visa, not a 15 day one as we thought it would be...not that we're going to stay here that long, but it's cool anyway. Unfortunately, there's no tuk-tuk's outside the airport, so we pay a taxi $6 (set rate by the Government) to get into town, which takes 20 minutes or so.
Our intended destination was the highly-rated Mali Namphu hotel, but it's full, so we try next door, at Phone Pasivien, which has rooms for $12 per night, which is OK for a spacious two-bedroom room. It's hot in Vientiane, and first impressions of the place are very positive. It seems you can just kick back and relax here, with little hassle, which is just what you want after Vietnam. It's also very hot, 28 degrees C, at 9:30AM when we land, and is reminiscent of Thailand, weather-wise. We wander round some wats, see the US Embassy, and the huge Presidential Palace, before having lunch on a Carlsberg restaurant/boat, moored in the Mekong. After sampling the local delicacies of BeerLao (fantastic!, owned by Carlsberg, hence the Carlsberg boa), Lao Sausage (a little spicy) and Mekong Riverweed (interesting) we wander to the oldest Buddhist monument in town, the That Dam.
The main thing to do here is chill, so that's exactly what we do at the Riverside Restaurant, with a Beerlao, which we have a newly acquired taste for, and at 40p for a 640ml bottle, it may be a huge taste! We wander past Wat Mixay, and Hae Sok, before finishing at the Mekong river, watching the famous Vientiane sunset, with, yes you guessed it, Beerlao! After a few more (quite a few) we stagger home, at 8PM, after a hard afternoon drinking, and pass out, for what seems like eternity....