After our interminably long day of driving our room for the night was very simple, very basic. This was the first time we questioned the cleanliness of our sheets and were subjected to a cold shower in the morning. Breakfast was al fresco, disappointing, but along a pretty river. A sun bear lay resting in a small cage, looking sad and depressed. We all wished to free it.
Back into the bus for more travel. A short distance and we stopped at a beautiful wat, our first temple in Laos. Beautiful, ornate, peaceful. An amazing setting. Young monks at work renovating a building. People at prayer. Curious faces. A very nice stop.
Another hour or so and we made our first real destination in Laos. Vientienne is a small, quiet and beautiful capitol city. For everything that is wrong in Hanoi, it seems right here.
Pauline took us to a favorite restaurant where we enjoyed a delicious lunch of Lao food. What a contrast from the meals of yesterday. Then on to the bank to change money and an afternoon poking through the markets. Drinks along the Mekong River at sunset. Another delicious meal and the day was done. I like Laos.
One note: for a country that so recently opened its borders to tourists, there seem to be an awful lot of westerners around. I get the feeling many are ex-pats as life appears comfortable and living is cheap. For instance, our very nice hotel is just $23 USD a night. Our room overlooks a lush, tropical garden courtyard where breakfast is served. I can see the appeal.