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Published: October 13th 2018
After a very stressful time of job hunting with some jobs being successful but not being able to work out and some just not to my desire at all, I finally landed myself a teaching position at a new school in Vientiane, Laos. After suggesting you need probably a day or two maximum in Vientiane in a previous blog, I now find myself living here. Funnily enough, while living here, I have also come to discover there's a bit more to this city than I originally gave it credit for.
Luckily for me, as I am working here, I have landed myself, from day one knocking on my neighbours house and meeting my flatmate, with four amazing humans in my life who I now consider my Laos family. It is with these fantastic girls I have gone out and seen more of Vientiane. With all of us being beach lovers yet living in a landlocked country that doesn't seem to understand cold temperatures, we have ventured out in the hopes of finding water sources. It is amongst this we discovered Ocean Water Park. Who knew Vientiane hosted a huge water park filled with water slides, wave pool, lazy river and
even a live band to have the vibe of a beach?
Getting here was a bit of a mission though, like most trips we take in Vientiane. One thing I have found drastically different between China and Laos is the transportation. In China, we had the ease of subways, great e-bike lanes with easy to charge scooters, and of course the bullet trains. Well here in Laos, we'd be lucky to get a VIP tuk tuk.
Example one: We headed to town for drinks on the Mekong River (a bar that is a boat that literally sits on the river and does 2 for 1 cocktails until 8pm!) and after a great night of drinking and dancing at Wind West, a foreigner and Lao bar, we grab a tuk tuk that clearly looks too small for all five of us. As we get half way home, we see our fella driving the tuk tuk pour water onto his engine. Only a small fire seems to have started on his engine from chugging away too hard. Not to worry, some how we managed to get home.... but not gonna lie, had my heart racing at more beats per minute
Example two: Three of us hailed what looked like a decent tuk tuk. Finally, a solid looking tuk tuk! We jump in only to discover the whole floor of the tuk tuk was covered in banana leaves that it felt like our feet were exploring the Amazon Rainforest in the back of a tuk tuk. Bright side, we made it with no snake bites!
Example three: Laos is famously known for its rainy season. Well, we thought we had been lucky - no rain throughout the whole evening even though it was during rainy season - what a win! Nek minnit while in another small tuk tuk… it rains. But when it rains it pours and when it pours I mean it really lets loose you would've thought God had unleashed the floodgates of a Niagra Falls on us. From this little tuk tuk, we ended up soaked, the driver had to drive as quickly as what we could walk, and not to mention we were slip and sliding all over the road in a dangerous fashion. But on the bright side, we made it alive yet again.
So even though it has been not
so ideal with the tuk tuks and it really makes me miss China transportation and nice sealed roads, we've managed to get from A to B without any hospital visits and after our trip to Bangkok, it's really made me appreciate proper transport and has provided many laughs because what else can one do in a situation your not in control of?
As for markets here, there's lovely night markets in the city near the Mekong which has a gorgeous collection of things and a morning market that also has some goodies. We've also managed to see a soccer/football game (call it what ya want) - Thailand vs Laos which was actually really fun to watch more so than Rugby which makes me feel like a traitor to my home country but oh the drama!
As far as food goes, we've kept it mostly western on nights we go out as we've taken up cooking every night! #healthylifestyle. Highly recommend Tyson's Kitchen (which also has gluten free options for those who need it). The service and staff are so amazing especially because after our second visit there, they gave us a free dessert pizza and fruit to my gluten intolerant friend! Couldn't have asked for kinder staff!
Shopping here though is a bit difficult. With a lack of malls (and McDonald's while I'm at it), we do wait to stock up when we head to Thailand. Luckily the flight from Vientiane to Bangkok is only 55mins so its not too much of a mission. Let me know if you know of any good clothing shops here in Vientiane because at this rate, I am sweating through all my outfits and could do with an update. For groceries, we have good old View Mall which has Rim ping supermarket that has everything we need right down to treats from our home countries.
Overall, as many struggles as there have been living here because it really is quite third world especially after living in a country as advanced as China (well in Suzhou anyway), it has been a fantastic adventure. Every day is a laugh, there are beautiful sunsets, the sky is so clear I am beginning to forget what smog is, the wild life is incredible (if you exclude the tarantula like spiders we have come across in our living room), the locals are super friendly and the vibe of the country is so relaxing that after a week of hard work you feel as if you are on holiday so I can say for certain I don't regret moving here but also I think it'll be more of a one year stay than the proposed two. But watch this space for more adventures of this kiwi on tour based in Vientiane!
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