I Love Laos...
The monks going to receive their alms.
December 11, 2007

What a packed yet relaxed day we just had…

No, we didn’t really have a chance to explore Vientiane. But we did have a chance to see a little bit before it was time for our
bus to pick us up.

We went out to one of the main temples in the center of the city and took in more than our fair share of Buddhas. A year ago I
was Buddha-ed out by the time I left South-East Asia. But time has passed and I now appreciate seeing the zen idol all over
again. This was good as there were hundreds and hundreds to see at this temple – all in varying sizes.

We walked down the street and passed the presidential palace on one side and on the other side, way down the street, there
appeared to be a South-East Asian version of an Arc de Triomph. It was really pretty. But we were pressed for time so we
couldn’t actually go very close to it. We ended at the Mekong River. We got a kick out of the fact that not much of a river
existed – it was mostly dried up. Quite a change from the flooded river we saw in Hoi An.

It was time to part ways with Vientiane when our tuk-tuk came to pick us up to take us to our bus. Now we were on our way
to Vang Vieng – a town that lies 3½ hours north on the way to Luang Prabang. This would be our home for the night.

The drive was lovely but my mouth nearly dropped when I saw our final destination. Loads of huge limestone karsts served as
the backdrop for some of the small Laotian villages we passed. When we stopped, we were here in Vang Vieng.

It was love at first sight for both of us.

We’re staying at a place where it would be impossible to have a better view. We look directly onto the river and the karsts
from our fourth-floor room. Not too shabby.

Since today was our only day here, we didn’t have time to dilly-dally. It was time to explore. Sadly, we wouldn’t have enough
time here to go tubing down the river (which is a main activity out here) but we would get a chance to see some of the dramatic
landscape. It would have to do.

The bridges to cross the river seemed as if they were from another era. Seriously. I have no idea when these things were built
but one thing is for sure – there will be a time where one of them will experience that extra kilo that will be the breaking point.
I was just hoping it wouldn’t be my extra kilos.

We climbed up rocks to get to a cave. Claustrophobia would only allow me to go in so far – but even Elisa didn’t see the need.
Everything looked pretty much the same as we walked through it with our flashlights. Once there was no sign of any light
coming through any more, I made a 180 degree detour back to the entrance of the cave. Elisa followed.

At sunset we decided to take advantage of our balcony. Hell, how often do I even have a balcony – let alone one that looks onto
such beautiful scenery. We sat and enjoyed. We both couldn’t shut up about how beautiful it all was.

Since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, we were starving. And there is more than an abundance of restaurants in this town.
While the Lonely Planet turns up its nose at the fact that 90% of these restaurants are showing episode after episode after
episode of
Friends, this was the very thing that was drawing us in. We were going to have no problem getting a dose of sitcoms.
And let me just say that Elisa and I couldn’t have been happier with our meal – the whole fish stuffed with lemongrass was
absolutely amazing. And so were the four episodes of
Friends that we sat and laughed at.

After buying our Laotian t-shirts. Elisa got one for ‘Beer Lao’ and I got one with Laotian writing which turns out to say ‘Thank
you!.’ Yes, a bit bizarre wearing a shirt that says ‘thank you’ – but I’m having fun with it. Every time I leave a shop, I point to
my t-shirt and say ‘thank you’. This gives the shop owners…and Elisa…a chuckle every time.

We decided to wind down our night with some massage action. Elisa went for the foot-and-leg while I went for the Laotian
(which is almost identical to the Thai massage – I loved it). And the bonus? It was $3 US.

December 12, 2007

We woke up extra early this morning (pretty easy to do when everything seems to shut down at 9pm) to walk around and get
our last couple hours of exploring in. We went across more bridges and ‘ooh’ed and ‘aah’ed at more of the scenery. But the
highlight was watching the single-file bright orange line of monks walking through the town to receive their alms. We watched
them stop at a local woman who had made something for them while they each went up to her and did some sort of a prayer.
What a sight!
Back to Laos.
Passing through a Laos village.
The karst scenery in Vang Vieng.