Published: June 26th 2012January 29th 2012
Haw Phra Kaew
Breakfast was included in the fee for the hotel and was buffet style and you could have your eggs cooked fresh...fried, scrambled or an omelette. The asian choices of noodles and rice were pretty good and very filling. The bread though was the awful sweet white bread found all over SE Asia.
After breakfast we decided to head off on the walking tour I had downloaded onto my ipod and see some of the sites of Vientiane. First stop on the tour was the Presidential Palace. It was pretty uninspiring as it was surrounded by extremely high walls and we couldn't really see anything. Next door pretty much was Haw Phra Kaew or the Emerald Buddha Hall. The very famous Emerald Buddha was of course not there as it had been carried off by the Thai Army back in the 18th century and now resides in Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok. We have glimpsed the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok when visiting the Grand Palace. It is purported to be carved from a single piece of Jade. It can only be glimpsed through the door or windows and although no photos are supposed to be taken, foreigners and Thais alike try
to get a quick shot. Haw Phra Kaew has now been turned into a small museum. It was well worth a look and had some interesting bits and pieces. No photos were allowed inside but you could take as many as you like outside. There was even a jar from the Plain of Jars outside. It looked quite out of place but drew a small crowd.
Next stop on the tour was Wat Si Saket just across the road. There was a small entry fee and photos were allowed. The Wat was surrounded by a terrace that has thousands of niches cut into the walls. Each of the niches contain a small buddha statue. Some of course have long since disappeared, probably pocketed by unscrupulous collectors. In front of the small buddha images is a row of much larger buddha statues all with different expressions and of different styles. It was all very impressive. The surrounding grounds contained a small cemetery with very large headstones .
Off we continued on our little tour. next stop was Putuxai or Laos Victory Monument or Vertical Runway depending on who you are talking to. It is made out of concrete that
was supposed to be used for a new airport runway. The view from the top was spectacular and well worth the climb up the narrow concrete steps. The surrounding grounds had a fountain and beautiful gardens that were full of both local and tourist alike and there was a really nice atmosphere. The day was starting to warm up and we were starting to get hungry so we decided to see one more attraction and head of for lunch.
The last sight for the morning was Phra That Luang. It was quite a walk from Putuxai and lucky we went excited about seeing inside as we arrived with about 5 mins to spare before it closed over lunch. We took some photos of the outside. It really is very gold. We had a look at the nearby local modern wat and then headed off to find a tuk tuk driver to take us back to the riverfront. There were a group in the car park but they seemed to be enjoying their siesta and didn't appear to enthusiastic to leave. The one price we were asked was ridiculously exorbitant so wandered a couple of more blocks back down the road and found a reasonably priced ride. Our driver dropped us of at the Nam Phou Fountain which was closed of for renovations. The Scandinavian bakery near the fountain is raved about but it looked very unappetising so we headed off towards the riverfront and found a restaurant that had the usual 500 page menu of every food imaginable and we had a couple of local type dishes.
We spent the best part of the afternoon in front of the air-conditioner. It started to cool down so we wandered through where the night markets were setting up, checking out places for dinner. Tonight we decided to eat at one of the local food places that sets up on the side of the road every night and then pulls everything down again the same night. The food was wonderful and we certainly saw the "Lao Please Don't Rush" at it's best. We were both exhausted after a long day of walking in the heat and after a quick wander around the night markets headed off to bed. The view of the markets from our room was brilliant and even though we were so close we could barely hear a thing.