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Published: February 8th 2012
5th Feb ’12 – 8th Feb ‘12 VV to Vientiane
We had booked our bus tickets through our hotel and we waited for our pick up which eventually arrived about 20 minutes late and then went a very bizarre route around the town picking people up, all of which meant we were the last ones on the bus to Vientiane and Howard and I ended up on the back seat.
Well the road wasn’t as windy as some of the others we had travelled along but it won first prize for the most potholes and the worst surface! At one point the 4 of us on the back seat all literally lifted right up into the air and came crashing down again. Considering this road links 2 major destinations I just can’t understand why they do not do any repairs, there are lorries constantly thundering along so it must be a main trade route as well.
We arrived in Vientiane after about 4 hours of being both shaken and stirred. Our hotel (and the whole of the old quarter) were an easy few minutes walk and much to my astonishment it was really luxurious. We were only staying
for one night as it was fully booked for the other 2 and I could see why.
So it was off out for a scout around to find another hotel and have a look about. I have to say yet again Vientiane is not what I expected, I pictured wide boulevards and a majestic river with lots of Luang Prabang style shops. In reality it was a a big sprawling faceless city with an old quarter full of little hotels, restaurants and bars all based around a couple of small streets.
The river area was really nice with a wide promenade which was fenced off apart from a couple of entranceways which was rather confusing. The river seemed to have dried up to about a quarter of its size and you could see Thailand on the opposite bank.
There is a really nice Night Market which sells a mix of tourist souvenirs and the latest fashions in tiny Laos sizes, it has a couple of drinks stalls with tables and chairs where you can sit and watch the world go by – which we did each night.
Howard was in food heaven as the place has
loads of Indians!! So 2 out of the 3 nights we had curry. Once again there did not seem to be enough tourists around to keep all the hotels and restaurants in business.
There isn’t a great deal to see or do here, there are plenty of Wats to visit and the National Museum (formerly the Museum of the Revolution) was really interesting. It started off with ancient history and was all very pleasant and then as you moved on the tone changed and soon we were in rooms with the anti French Colonialist pictures and the atrocities they committed while having deceived the King into allowing them in, then the anti American Imperialist items and the effects of the Vietnam War and the mass bombings on Laos and its people. The heroes of the revolution were all there and you could see why they were heroes! It ended with Laos becoming the Peoples Democratic Republic and Hooray to that!!
Opposite the museum was another find …… Svensons ice cream parlour and very good it was too!
We also took a trip out to the Buddha Park which was for me the best thing we saw in
Laos. It is another bone jarring 1 hour tuk tuk ride away but a definite must do if you are in the area. It isn’t that big but it is stuffed full of enormous statues of Buddha in many different poses, but also Hindu gods and other strange and bizarre mythical creatures. It was mental but amazing. The piece de restistance is an enormous round kind of jar shaped (Lonely Planet says pumpkin) stone which you can enter through a small mouth doorway and walking over the tongue leads you to an inside passage way which goes right round it and through the inner stone walls small windows you glimpse all sorts of strange figures. You then arrive at steps which go down into the level of hell with figures depicting all kinds of tortures and torments or you go up into the earthly level inside which are yet more figures and from there more steps lead up to the level of heaven and all sorts of mystical beasty people, from there it was a short flight of steep narrow steps to reach a tiny window from which you could see right over the park and if you were flexible
The wat opposite from our balcony
and brave enough you could climb out and sit on the roof.
The park was built privately by some man who fell through a hole in a cave in the mountains and landed in a holy man's lap which inspired him to become a holy man and led to the development of the park, apparently all the carving was done on site by untrained artists - AMAZING!
I loved the place and took tons of photos!
We also visited a Wat that is now a museum and has some original ancient paintings on the walls, that was an interesting place and easily within walking distance and near to the very grand presidential palace – which you can peer at through the locked gates.
Then before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye to our other hotel The Mixay Paradise with its tiny but clean rooms and its outside terrace with mosquitoes that must have been the size of vultures judging by the state of my legs!.
To sum Laos up is difficult, the only thing I can think of is strange
Buddah Park - where am I???
but in a good way and it does have stunning scenery.
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