A much cooler day today with rain overnight. At 7am we went to the river and enjoyed a long tail boat ride for about a half hour on the Nam Song River. Lovely scenery, lots of activity on the river. After breakfast of Shaksuska and a visit to the morning food market - ( rats, squirrels, frogs, insects, buffalo blood anyone? ) we drove 130kms along a dreadful road to Vientiane, Laos’ capital with less than 1million population. It took about 4 hours. More evidence of the Chinese built railway which will be the first railway in Laos.
So our mini bus trip to Vientiane was better than the one to Vang Vieng but the roads here leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps the Chinese Government would have been better pouring money into roads rather than the train line. Still not so much in it for them. They can bring in more goods via train.
It’s a very scenic country from what we have seen and after the rain in the wet season would be more so. There was some rain last night so there was lots of mud around. Bananas grow everywhere but we saw no evidence of the pineapples, watermelon, citrus and papaya that we saw for sale everywhere.
We came across a fatal accident along the way where a motorcyclist was run into by a truck. That left us feeling down. Who knows what will happen to the truck driver or even if it was his fault, the way the motor cyclists drive.
Our hotel Lane Xang is very ordinary- dated and run down but in a good position across from a park which fronts the Mekong River with Thailand on its other bank. I do have a large room with sitting room and a bath in the bathroom. A bit of a walk to some of the town and back for a nap, having had no sleep last night due to a celebration of a special day in Vang Vieng and very noisy young Koreans in the room next door. Despite me knocking on their door 3 times between 1:30 and 5:15 they just bowed and soon carried on banging .Not sure what they were up to.
The first night we went for a supposedly traditional Lao meal but I’m not sure it was. There was certainly little chilli in it but that was probably to cater for us. Very similar to Thai food. Music was western - good voices but would have been nice to have some traditional music.
Day two we went to a very strange sculpture park where a shaman who had studied both Buddhism and Hinduism had constructed symbols of both these religions. Some quite weird. After that to the “Arc de Triumph” victory arch built after the socialist government took over in. They built it with money provided by the USA to built a new airport runway. Climbed up for a nice view of the city.
Also to the most sacred Wat or temple in Laos where we saw a couple of wedding couples having professional photographs taken in traditional wedding attire.
Had a look around a shopping mall and the night market which was full of crap.
Dinner on the fourth floor of a bar/ restaurant where we had a good view of sunset over the Mekong
Laos became independent from France in 1953. It’s on the Mekong River and shares borders with Thailand, China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam. It’s population is about 7 million. It has a Marxist Government and relies heavily on overseas aid, much of which comes from China. It’s economy is growing at about 7% per annum. Main industries are copper, tin,gold, gypsum, timber,agriculture, tourism, coffee,cement, rubber and electric power.