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Published: July 24th 2012
14th Oct: Woke up about 1 am after a snooze as the bus has pulled into a rest stop. I got off, went to use the facilities and stretch my legs. Got back on the bus and fell asleep. Woke up when we arrived in Vientiane around 6:30 am. Got a tuk-tuk into town with some other backpackers from the bus. We wandered the streets a bit aimlessly at first until we found the guesthouse area. I think someone may have recommended the place we ended up staying at. The guesthouse was really nice and we got checked in and were able to dump our stuff.
After having a lovely shower, I met up with Brigid and Leo, from the bus, and we went for some breakfast. After we devoured our breakfast Brigid and I headed to the big local market. It was a nice walk and we got to see a bit of the city. The market was pretty big and we had a good wander around it. I ended up buying a pair of flip-flops. Got some random drink off a stall holder near the market, it was quite nice, apart from the lumps of jelly in it.
Stopped off for some noodle soup for lunch.
Back at the hostel I retrieved my passport, which I had accidently left at the front desk in my tired state that morning. Went to my room and had a nap. Woke up in the early evening and had wander around the riverside area, looking at the market stalls that were setting up. Went to a restaurant near the guesthouse for dinner, had chicken and basil, which was really nice. Had a couple of beers, but headed back to the hostel around 10 as I was still shattered.
15th Oct: Up, showered and went down for breakfast. Met up with Brigid and we decided to go to a temple, Wat Sisaket, and the traditional sauna we had read about in our guidebooks.
The temple wasn't far from our guesthouse and it didn't take long to get there. It is Vientiane's oldest surviving temple and it was built in 1818. It was built in the Siamese style, rather than the Lao style and this could have been a factor in why the Siam army didn't destroy the temple in 1827, when they sacked Vientiane. The temple was really beautiful and
it contains over 2,000 Buddhas. The area surrounding the temple was surrounded by row upon row of these Buddhas, some were covered in sparkly sashs and looked pretty funky.
The sauna was about 3 kilometres out of town, and the staff at the guesthouses couldn't believe we were going to walk it, instead of taking a tuk-tuk. But we felt that the exercise would do us good. The walk wasn't too bad and we stopped for an ice coffee along the way to cool us down. The sauna was situated next to Wat Sok Pa Louang, and it was a short walk through the forest to reach it. We had to wait about 40 minutes for the water to heat up, but we were served lots of nice tea, whilst waiting. It was really cool because they burn lots of different herbs to help create the steam and so the smells are changing while you are in there. I lasted about 40 minutes before I got too hot and had to come out for good. So I sat and relaxed and drank lots more tea. I enjoyed the sauna as it was a real mix of locals and tourists.
On the walk back we stopped for a late lunch of some fried rice. Delish.
Used the internet and had a quick rest at the guesthouse. Then we headed out for the evening. We went down to the waterfront and had a couple of beers and some bbq duck, which was nice but very fatty. Got talking to two guys sitting near us and they later joined us at Sticky Fingers for a few more drinks. It's a small world as I recognised one of the guys from being on our minivan to Laos from Kratie.
16th Oct: Had a fairly lazy morning. Had brekky and met Brigid. We headed back to the market for another look around, and then to a shopping mall. It was quite posh. Spent the rest of the day walking aimlessly around Vientiane. Ended up seeing some of the sites by accident, like the Arch de Triumph thingy. Had an ice coffee and checked emails. Stopped a little restaurant for noodles. We decided to go to a sauna that was on the next street across from our hostel. It was meant to be a herbal sauna like the one we visited yesterday. However
when we got there it was closed. Went back to the hostel and just chilled there. Brigid left for the night bus to Luang Prabang. I needed something non-Lao for my dinner and went to a lovely Turkish place for a good helping of meat, chips, and bread. Fab! Met up with the lads from last night to watch the match in the English pub, the Hare and Hound.
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