Vientiane Travel Blog› entry 30 of 43 › view all entries
March 21st, 2008 – by: worldcitizen
I was a short drive from Paksan to Vientiane and we arrived in the late morning. I grabbed my backpack and walked to our guest house which was located on a narrow street.
We settled in and then I went to check out some temples with roommate #2 and her mother. It can take some effort to cross the street, but in general Vientiane is very walkable if you stay in the center of town. We first stopped at Wat Si Saket, the oldest temple in Vientiane. All of the temples close for an hour or two at lunch time so we decided to get something to eat before going to another temple called Haw Pha Kaew.
We walked down by the Mekong River which was pretty dried up. I'm guessing it's much more mighty in the rainy season. It's so weird to look across the river and see Thailand! It was only 20 days since I'd left Thailand, but it seemed like it had been ages.
After lunch we went to Haw Pha Kaew. From there were got a tuk tuk to Pha That Luang which is the national symbol of Laos and the image you see on their currency. We then tuk tuked to the Morning Market. All of the saleswomen greeted us with, "Sabaideeee!" It took me a moment to figure out that "sabaidee" is hello in Laos, similar to Thailand's "sawatdee". It was strange and nice to hear this after always being greeted with, "Hello!" in Cambodia and Vietnam. These women were extremely laid back about selling and they didn't try to pressure us into buying anything.
I met up with our guide, Cat, for dinner and then afterwards we walked down to the river. I heard live music and wanted to check it out. We found a free concert and a large crowd filled with locals, tourists and expats. It was really wonderful because it was the first time in Southeast Asia that I had seen locals and foreigners mix in a positive way at night. Until then, the only locals I had seen hanging out in bars and clubs were prostitutes. The atmosphere was great and reminded me of the Tuesday night celebrations I went to in Salvador, Brazil.
The band was French and performed a mix of ska, chanson, and punk. They were totally fun and energetic. After the band was finished, they played music on the loudspeakers and there was a lot of randomness such as people in wierd costumes riding around on bicycles.
Vientiane is not the most exciting city you'll ever go to- there's a reason why they call it the most laid back capital city in the world. I've seen some people on this site say they didn't like Vientiane. I think the key to enjoying it is to go there with no expectations. If you are coming from Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng or if you expect capital cities to be grandiose, you may be disappointed. I think you just have to accept Vientiane as it is and go with the flow when you're there. I actually wouldn't have minded spending another day there to see Buddha Park. Unfortunately, I didn't read about it until after I left Vientiane. I enjoyed my time in Vientiane and thought the people there were really pleasant and friendly.
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