Asia | South East Asia | Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) | Mekong | Vientiane – and so this is Laos
Having crossed the friendship bridge at Nong Khai, we had a bit of a trauma getting from the bridge on the Laos side to Vientienne.
There were about 8 travellers and we were offered an open van for 150 baht each. After we noticed the bus for 7 baht the figure fell to 30 baht each – but it took a while and our chief negotiator was getting a bit exasperated. in the end 5 of us broke ranks and went for the van at 150 baht in total while 3 stayed for the bus.
The van – a pick up with a roof, was more like a bus picking up people en route, local lao going 3 blocks or 3 miles. lots of kids, a beautiful laos girl of about 2 who looked a little alarmed at our presence. After a quick rigmarole around the guest houses – until we made it absolutely clear that it was a choice between Vannasingh Guest House and we pay for the ride or we all get off here and pay nothing, we arrived.
After I checked in, showered, filled my face at Jo’s – a french style cafe round the corner it was off to Morning Market. My mission shoes. My Khoa San Road shoes were giving me blisters and pharmacies seemed to be in short supply.
The market is huge, electrics, crafts, material, silk, gold, dried fish, fresh coffee but no shoes. 2 hours later i had a beautiful piece of woven silk cloth, but still no shoes. I decided to go for a walk anyway, first to the black Stupa and the monestary at (check where).
The monestary was closed but after some communication (mostly a lot of pointing and hand signals) i was told to come back at 6. Satidfied i went off in search of the something – a supposedly glorious gold monument to Buddha, to Laos, to the Struggle and to the Success. 4 km of walking, vegetable noodle soup in my belly from one of the roadside cafes and with blisters on my feet i arrived. and it is breathtaking. totally stunning.
I sat, gazed, watched the reflection of the sun, marvelled at the construction of it all. I lit my incense, explored the 2 adjoining temples and shared a cigarette with the workmen who were building temple number 3. I showed them the map i had, they showed me where they lived. Communication is difficult when you don’t know the language.
Then a walk back to the victory monument for a water and a sit down. The monument which looks a little like the Arc d’Triomphe is near to an english language school so i was soon surrounded by kids wanting to practice their developing languuage skills and get their homework checked. Really cool students and eager to learn ‘because it is important for Laos.’
When i come back and i’ve already decided that i want to come back, i want to speak some of the language. it would be a really cool surpise.
Anyway at 1/4 to 6 i headed for the monestary and good as their word, i was allowed to sit at the back and watch. The sound of monks praying is incredible. Harmony, resonance, divinity – wrong word but it was awe inspiring to hear them. A half hour memory i will cherish for a long time.
It was over to soon. I sat in the grounds, watched the moon climb into the sky and felt blessed.
About 2 hours later i went for a beer lao and a cigarette at the hugely disappointing Nampho Gardens – no lao food, just expensive pizza’s and hamburgers. but i did gret to watch the full moon travel through the sky.
After the beer i headed to Restaurant Santisouk – major disappointment 15 kips for meat that was supposed to be 5 (according to lp) No sign of many travellers or much local life so i headed back to hotel, crashed and got an early night.