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Published: February 24th 2011
This is our last entry for Laos...we have made it to the sleepy capital of Vientiane. From Vang Vieng we took a 3 hours bus to Vientiane, not much to write about the ride, pretty uneventful experience. Vientiane is 8km away from downtown. This time I was not going to let the touts harassed us. We simply walk 300 meters away from the bus station, in the middle of the countryside, to find a tuk-tuk to bring us to town for the right price.
Took us few attempts to find a decent place where to stay. Same thing as always...price may be cheap, the problem is to find a decent and clean place. Our night in Vientiane would be an early night. Nothing really that we missed. Here bars and restaurants have to close by 11.30pm, and your hotel is locked from midnight on. You always have enough sleeping hours in sleepy Vientiane!
The city center is pretty small, you can walk from one side of downtown to the other side in less than 15 minutes...less than 300,000 people live here (Saigon is at over 10 millions)! Here too you feel the french colonial influence everywhere from beautiful villas
and buildings, to the number of french restaurants, or simply because every single public administration has french below his Lao transcription.
We stopped by the local Arc de Triomphe, Putaxai, by the Presidential Palace (very cute), and by few Wats on the way. Our last lunch and meal in Laos had to be a local one. We spent it on the banks of the Mekong river. Later on we stopped for a nice ice cream at one of the tenth terraces available around town. If you are an expat living here, there is not a lot to do, you simply learn to stop, relax and enjoy the passing time. I have to admit that this task is made easier by the huge amount of cheap restaurants, nice terraces that you can find all over town.
Here, there are no traffic jams....you don't need either to be too worry when you cross the street, it is a seriously relax atmosphere. I have lived in Vietnam from 1996 to 2000, and I have to admit I find a lot of similarities with Saigon back to the times of1996....minus the thousands of people on the street.
Vientiane the peaceful. Not
a place where I would stay for a week...well, why not if you get a good book and are ready to take few kilos on lounging from one restaurant to another one. But Vientiane is like the Laos we have come to encounter for few days, relax and full of smiles.
We made it by tuk-tuk and pick-up to Thalanbeng. The train station is next to the Friendship Bridge. We paid 50,000kip for the ride. Once at the train station, you pay your ticket (20 baht each), clear Lao immigration, and enjoy a last drink before boarding the 3rd class train, 13 minutes ride over the Mekong. From there, we arrived in Nong Khai train station in Thailand. Cleared the Thai immigration in less than 2 minutes. We walked out of the train station for our first thai meal of the week, and stocked on beer (Thai one, not as good as BeerLao) for the train ride.
Next morning, Sunday morning, by 7.30am we were at home. One more holidays over, and a new country that we have finally discovered after years living in Asia. For me back on the plane on Monday night to the streets of
Cairo and few more adventures, this is coming on my next blog once I find time to upload the pics of the military in the street.
I'm writing this from RDC...yes middle of Africa for a week!
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