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Published: January 30th 2019
We have arrived in Vientiane. It’s 7.30am so right on schedule. The tuk tuk drivers are there to meet us and the usual haggling match ensues. He starts off at 60,000 - a ridiculously inflated price and we finish up at 40,000. Still inflated but pretty much the best we can hope for as foreigners. It’s very telling that there is always one tuk tuk for foreigners and the rest are for the Lao. They do not want us to know what the Lao pay so always keep us separate but we know anyway.
Our hotel is on the way to the centre of town, but our driver insists on going to the centre first, bypassing our hotel. In fairness, that’s where most other passengers are headed but it’s a ploy to make us think our journey was further. At our hotel he then tries to up the price. We give him the same money as everyone else has paid and that he agreed before we left, telling him we know that he brought us the long way round. He departs disgruntled. Seriously though - there were 15 of us squeezed into the back of his cattle truck for the
15-20 minute journey, for which he netted the equivalent of £30, so we cannot feel that we did not pay a fair price. The massive overcharging of tourists is one of the major negative changes in Laos that have disappointed us this trip.
We have chosen a hotel on the outskirts of town which has a little swimming pool. We need to have a little relaxation as we have another long night bus journey tomorrow night so we need to recharge our batteries.
Our room is lovely with a nice soft bed, fluffy pillows and a large separate shower. I must admit, we are pretty fed up of tiny wet rooms. We also have a nice fridge and a kettle for making coffee. The hotel has a free shuttle bus service six times a day so we can still access the town easily if we wish. It’s more likely that we will just hang out around the pool.
After freshening up, we explore the immediate neighbourhood. We need a bank to change money. We also buy some instant coffee sachets and some fruit to munch - apples, bananas and dragon fruit.
Having missed breakfast, we decide
to have lunch at the hotel. I have a rather disappointing spaghetti bolognaise. It’s obviously a Chinese version of spaghetti bol as it has been made with sweet and sour sauce - seriously not at all nice. Ian has chosen a Lao dish of pork in basil and rice. It comes with a fried egg on top. Ian says it’s very nice but it’s so spicy it is blowing his head off.
Lunch over, it is time for a dip. It’s probably because I am feeling so very hot that the pool water is freezing! I resort to wearing my rash vest and even then it feels like swimming through ice!
Refreshed from my swim, we chill out on the sun loungers. They are all in the shade which suits us perfectly - the last thing we want is a touch of sunstroke. It’s weird sitting by the pool listening to the crowing of a cockerel in the property next door. :-)
That just leaves dinner to sort out. We walk around the neighbourhood searching fir a restaurant in vain. We do find one place that is buzzing but it’s rather odd. It appears that you buy
your fish raw and bbq it yourself at your table. The locals are enthusiastically getting on with it, but we are unsure what to make of it. Do you have to supply your own table top bbq? It looks fun but I think we will have to give it a miss. We end up back at the hotel restaurant where our evening meal is more successful than lunch.
Now for an early night to catch up on lost sleep!
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