Capital or town?
Vientiane Travel Blog› entry 112 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Juliana (Russia)
We arrived into Vientiane off the sleeper bus from Pakse around 6.30am. We caught a tuk tuk into the centre and the first thing to strike me, was how it seemed nothing like a capital city. It had a small town feel about it, and i guess this isn't surprising when you consider that only 200,000 people live here. We wandered around for an hour before we found a nice guesthouse to dump our bags in.
Our first day here was spent trying to find the Phillipines embassy, but after walking around for 3 hours and been completely lost, we gave up.
On our way home we walked past the Presidential Palace and stopped in a cafe by the river for some Dinner and drinks. It had been a long day, so we called it a night earlier than normal.
The following day we took in the sites of the city, first off visiting the Black Stupa (That Dam). After this we went to Patuxai, which was built from French money that had been given to improve their airport. We climbed the monument, set in a roundabout, for unrivalled panoramic views of the capital. After this we went to Lao's most important religious site, Pha That Luang. Disappointingly, it actually looked much more impressive from a distance, as when you got up close, you could see the peeling paint that revealed a black undercoat. Whilst walking between these sites, we also encountered several impressive wats and temples.
With the central areas covered we caught a local bus to Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park), where we met 2 western hippies. They annoyed me a little bit, as they were preaching to me about how they had connected with the people, learnt the language and stayed away from all the tourist areas and they had only lowered themselves to come to Vientiane to get a Chinese visa. As they tried to communicate with a monk on the bus, we soon learned that 'learning the language' meant they had actually learned about 10 words (Hello, Thank You, How much etc etc). Thus the entire conversation occured in sketchy English. The bus driver then stopped to buy himself an ice-cream and most of the passengers followed suit. I couldn't blame him as it was a scorching day, but can you imagine a bus driver doing this in your country!? This gave us the opportunity to witness how they had learned Lao customs, as even more amusingly they discarded their rubbish in a ladies shopping bag, mistaking it for a bin! Clearly they had gained a much better idea of the country than even i could have imagined!
Anyway, back to Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park)! This really was a pretty incredible place.