Saturday, 25 January 2014

Venturing out in Vientiane

Inside a brightly painted Wat
We slept in as long as we could without missing out on our included breakfast, which meant we were up and ready by 9am. It was ok food for breakfast, the best part being the strong coffee. We set about walking the LP’s ‘riding tour’ as it was only7 km and we couldn’t be bothered hiring bikes. We saw many nice Wats with impressive ‘Nasa’s’ on the stairs, carved reliefs on the roofs and nicely painted interiors.

One of the beautiful Wat's with a great garden to walk around

We walked up to the Putaxy Arch, which is nothing like the Arc de Triumph even though this is what it is compared too, but still worth seeing besides. We ventured a few streets off the main route to find and cheap place for lunch before retreating to our aircon for the latter part of the afternoon to recuperate and plan the next part of our trip. 

Putaxy Arch
After checking out we spent the following day exploring more sights like the golden national monument of Laos, Pha That Luang, which was fairly impressive but not worth seeing up close as then you just saw how badly it needed to be cleaned. The surrounding Wats and grounds were also very nice to wander around. We had an early dinner as we had another overnight bus booked to Phonsavan, this time travelling ‘VIP’ class, which was essentially the local bus with AC. It was the first totally – really totally – sleepless night we’d had on a bus trip as the seats didn’t recline at all. We even had a stop at 2am for food as apparently our ticket entitled us to breakfast. We mistakenly thought that this might occur at least at 5am but no, it was at 2! The old guy running ‘restaurant’ didn’t speak any English but he did speak old-school French and he was so happy that we could communicate with him. He explained to us that with our bus ticket we could either have a bowl of soup or a can of soft drink and since neither of us could think of eating at that hour, we chose two cans of drink for later and enjoyed stretching our legs while waiting for the rest of the bus to eat.

Pha That Luang - a bit grimy up close!
The only benefit to not sleeping was that we were awake to see the beautiful sunrise and the equally beautiful landscapes that we were driving through. Unfortunately the trip took two hours longer than expected, so it wasn’t till 8am - 12 hours after boarding - that we finally pulled into the small bus station on the outskirts of town. We were very tired and sore from the long trip as we had been jolted and shaken most of the night on the bumpy, windy road.

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