Published: March 19th 2012March 11th 2012
Our 10 am VIP bus to Vientiane finally leaves 10.45am it's suppose to take only 3hrs, the road is very rough, the bus speedo os not working, the odd speed sign suggest 30km, the other instrument lights are flickering on and off. Just imagine traveling on 50mts of tar then 100mts of red rocky dirt road all the way, and takes 6 hrs instead! Not only the bus is rattling so are our teeth and wobbly bits. It must be hard for the people living on the road edge in small villages much of what I can see through our dust covered window is also covered in thickly in red dust. This is the main road from Vang Vieng to Vientiane.
The Vientiane bus depot is about 10 mins from town and requires separate transportation into the towns centre. A little bit of a racket going on here as there is no other option. Now in the Vientiane town centre we start looking for our hotel, as it happens we are only two small blocks away.
All checked in and ready to see what's available to see. One thing that is very noticeable is there are lots of Wats
within a small distance. These Wats are a considerable size, each with their own designs, statues and colours. We are located in the centre of town and one block from the Mekong River, looking across the river you can see Thailand.
The Mekong River is the boarder that divides the Lao on the east side from Cambodia and Thailand.
At Vientiane the river is very low, and like ants people are walking across the sand for some distance until reaching water, back on the walk way the night stall sellers are getting ready. Gone are the bamboo erected shelters, these are the pull out all in one variety. As with most markets it's generally a the same, same no difference.
Day 2 - Breakfast is a pleasant change, cereal and mike shakes are added to our choice of food. A short stroll to the corner block we organise a Tuk Tuk to take us to three main attractions.
a) Xiengkuane Buddha Park built in 1958, contains a collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures, scattered throughout the gardens. Located about 28 kms south of Vientiane at the edge of the Mekong.
On your way you can
see the Thai towns across the river. Although this is a recent addition with little ancient history, it is still a great place to come and see the sculptures, as they are varied and make for great photo's.
b) Pha That Stupa initial structure was built in 307 BC by the first governor of Vientiane, the building that stands now was built in 1566, then restored in 1953, standing 45 mts tall, shaped to imitate a lotus bud, painted in gold, it is believed to contain pieces of Buddha's hair. In the area surroundings the stupa, you can see other beautifully coloured Wats with live in monks.
We were lucky to strike up a conversation with a young monk and he tried to explain his life and what he hope to acheive when he had completed all his studies. A truely interesting way of life, although not one I would consider. Many monks today are seen with mobile phones, and a few with camera's as they too are on the move visiting many of the tourist sites.
c) Patuxai (Victory Monument Gate) architecture is similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The designs that cover this
structure are typically Lao motifs such as the mythical bird women (Kinnari). Climbing up several flights of stairs brings you to the top of the monument, where you can see a panoramic view of Vientiane. The underside of the roof the has brightly coloured tiles, depicting a story.
A short walking distance south of the Patuxai is a hanging gong, that was erected as a symbol of World Piece between all countries.
Tonight we are dining at an open air restaurant, which is was a storage area for night market carts during the day.
Day 3 - Sleep in for some, the air condition and power has disappeared, we are luckier then some lodgers, as many of the rooms do not have a window. Today is spent looking around the inner streets, not a great deal left to see, so another opportunity to catch up on emails. WiFi access has been free at all hostels, cafe and eateries.
Well we have found something new to try, grilled pigs intestines. Its all agreed to try some, and as you may or even not want to image they tasted like chewing on old rubber tyres with seasonings.
We will not be reordering this meal again!
As this is our last day in Vientiane, so have decided to indulge in some body pampering. A full body massage head to toe should just about do it. Booking for 7pm 2 1/2 hrs US$15, what a bargin. Rocking up for our massage starts of with a cold drink with a hint of mint, and a gentle foot scrub, next we are shown up stairs to the massage area, there are 6 mattresses on the floors with curtains separating each one. Stripping off down to our undies and a towel for modesty the massage start with a intense foot and lower leg muscle work out (1/2 hr), then continued up the legs to the body, then to the very ends of your fingers, shoulder and head (1 hr). Unfortunatly the power went out and our pampering experience comes to an end, missing out on the body scrub (1 hr). Pooh hoo..... It felt so good.
On the move again, but this time we are going by air.
There are more photos below