Vientiane is the quiet capital of Laos, which has been described as "one of the last
quiet countries on earth". They're not wrong, it sure is quiet. Friday night in downtown
Vientiane, and there was nary a soul to be seen. But that's part of the charm of the place,
and was certainly welcome after the crowds of Vietnam, it was a really nice place to chill
out on the banks of the Mekong.
We only had one night in Vientiane, but that was certainly enough time to see the sites -
Laos is more about soaking up the atmosphere than rushing around the tourist hotspots, and
I wish we'd had more time to spend there. Nonetheless, it was a really cool place to visit
and I am sure I'll return one day.
The symbol of Laos is Wat That Luang, covered in gold it appears on the country's
banknotes and the visa you get on entry (cheaper if you're from eastern Europe, inexcplicably).
The Wat has recently been restored, as not so long ago most of the gold had been stripped
Much to my delight, we arrived in Laos at Wattay International Airport, they
must have known I was coming!
Vientiane's very own Arc d'Triomphe, Patuxay, on the road out to Wat That Luang. There is
heavy French influence still prevalent in the country, and as such you can get some top-notch
French grub for bottom-dollar prices, which we did.
This cheery chappie greets you on the way into the city from the west. He was just
round the corner from our hostel.
This is the oldest Wat in the city of Vientiane, next to the American embassy,
and it has clearly seen better days.
Central vientiane, where the action doesn't happen. We rented bicycles and pedalled
round the city for the afternoon, something that would be risking your neck in any other
nearby country, but here was perfectly safe due to the low volume of traffic.
Riverside market place at dusk, spot the tourists.
If you're feeling a bit peckish, take one look at this lot and you'll soon lose your
appetite...! Fried crickets or fried grubs are the order the day at this street vendor.
Wat That Luang, a potent symbol of Laos, with another national monument, the Laotian
tuk-tuk, known here as a "jumbo".
Our hostel, the Thongbay guest house, was very pleasant and comfortable, and even
had a bar which was open after the rest of the (few) bars in town closed at 11pm on Friday
Sunset over the Mekong, the land across the water is Thailand.
Night market in Vientiane, I did my best to make it look busy but this was about
as packed as it got.
According to the guide book the Lao Plaza Hotel is an example of Soviet architecture,
which I couldn't see, but it did have a swimming pool and jacuzzi that let us smelly lads in for a small
Boat sitting on the banks of the Mekong, taken from a bar in which we were the only
customers and the door was boarded up behind us when we left.
Again the Wat That Luang, guarded by this armed bloke, and an appropriate way to
bring this Laotian experience to a close.