© 2011 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated vientiane 18

Laos – Vientiane – 19th/20th February

The  King of Bus, VIP to Vientiane from Tha Khaek was worth paying the extra 30,000 kip for as although we did stop quite a bit on the journey it wasn’t as often as the local bus and it was more comfortable. At lease for us it was, they still pack on as many people as they can even on the Kong of Bus! We left Tha Khaek at 9.30am and arrived at around 2pm, whilst en route we met Flo an Corrinne and shared a tuk-tuk with them into town, it took around 10 minutes to get into town from the southern bus station and cost us 70,000 kip. We’ve been informed that a tuk-tuk ride should generally cost 10,000 kip each for shortish journeys. Arriving in the centre of Vientiane our aim was to get into one of the guesthouses up by the river recommended in the Lonely Planet but it was along with many other guesthouses already full. We searched around for a while and the cost of a room was more than we were anticipating, so once we got it in our head that we would struggle to find anything for less than 100,000 we settled for a family room at a Chinese guesthouse down the road from the national museum. We had 2 rooms, 4 beds, a bathroom and a large balcony, Dave managed to bargain the cost of the room from 600,000 kip for 2 nights stay to 500,000 kip. This would be split between us all and was more than we were wanting to pay but we had a good space and a few friends to join us.

We walked along the Mekong riverside once more and sat by the statue of Anuvong whilst we watched another lovely sunset. Later that night we went out for food as a group and Doug and Emma rejoined us having last caught up with them in Don Det. We ate some good street-style food, which was more costly than we think real street food should be, but we figure many people are setting up street restaurants and charging prices similar to the restaurants themselves…defeats the object of being street food we thinks. However aside from this the food was very a great Laos Barbecue style set up, grilled fish, meats, and other delights for us to feast upon. Back at the apartment we sat on the balcony, chatted and shared our photos with Flo and Corrinne.

Our second day in the Laos capital saw us hire some bikes and go off to explore the area. We followed the Lonely Planet’s walking tour for a while and landed at several beautiful Thai-style wats and shrines and as Flo and Corrinne are also keen photographer’s we looked like a camera club on tour of the temples. It was good to explore and we took in most of the temples in the town as well as going up and down the same street a few times to get our bearings. We ended up at the Arch-de-Tiromph style monument a few kilometers out of the centre, positioned in the middle of a roundabout and made to appear a little akin to its French friend, along with several other sightseers we walked around the fountains and sat in the shade before venturing further on our bike tour. We cycled via the market which wasn’t especially exciting so we ventured to a bakery for some decent food and then went in search of a swimming pool.

There are supposed to be 3-4 dotted around town, 2 of which are public, one is in a hotel and the other is in the grounds of the Australian Embassy. This last one is supposed to be the best place for swimming in town, however when we got there we were told it wasn’t open to the public, so around we turned and tried to find others listed in the Lonely Planet. The second pool has been torn down and is now a development site and the third…to our luck was open and had many people splashing around inside. This one is the National swimming pool of Laos, and we were certainly impressed by the thong wearing ladies walking around… how national was this place??

We sunbathed for a while, read our books and had a dip in the pool, by coming in through the side entrance we seemed to have skipped the payment part, so we managed to enjoy a free dip too! Later on we enjoyed a cheap-ish vegetarian curry on the river front at Naz’s (they tend to pop up in the towns and cities here in Laos) and opted to chill out for the rest of the night.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

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