vientiene - Where's Byrne?


27.09.2011 – 29.09.2011 Sunny 32 °C

I was looking forward to Laos after hearing about the French influence in their culture, cuisine and general way of life, those of you who know me know I like the French. We jumped in a van the same day as we biked it to Chiang Mai back from Pai. It was a minivan that took 15 hours overnight to get to Vientiene and I was not looking forward to it. The van had a few spare seats so at least we could stretch out slightly but it really was a fucking nightmare journey and the worst of our trips so far. Although the timing was right, we were only actually travelling for ten hours, the other five were spent poncing around waiting for the border to open and breaks for the driver (the selfish Thai/Laos bastard). The highlight of the trip was an amazing electrical storm we drove through, the most prominent I’ve seen with huge forked lightening that lit up the entire road and forests around us. This was accompanied by tropical rains and rumbling thunder. Unfortunately like the Malaysians and Filipinos, no amount of rain slows the Thais down. Even though we ended up waiting at the border for two-hours he still thrashed the van at full speed. This guy had somewhere to be and he was gonna’ be there.

After yet more hassle at the border getting our visas and having to pay a $2 bribe, we grabbed a tuktuk from the border into the centre of Vientiene and found a hotel to hold up in at 80,000kp (Kip) a night (about £6.50). After sleeping all day in an amazing double bed  complete with duvet we headed out for dinner and my first BeerLao. It’s a great beer and at 70p for a large bottle (500ml) you can’t complain. Five bottles later I wandered off to bed a bit wonky.

The next day, in a French cafe, where I had a Laos Sandwich (crusty French baguette with tuna and all the trimmings) we got talking to some Essex girls who told us there was nothing in Vientiene. Brilliant. We had this confirmed by a guy who was working at the hotel we were staying at. ‘The museum or the temple’ were the attractions he said. You know how I feel about temples, once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. We tried the museum though but I wish we hadn’t. It was a poor excuse for a museum and in a bad state – most exhibits years old and in need of repair with only a smattering of English used. What can you expect for 80p I suppose? After this we booked the bus to Vang Vieng and it couldn’t come quickly enough. Vientiene is certainly the smallest capital city I’ve ever been to and probably the worst.

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