Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Our alarm clocks outside are very trustworthy. They start their calling faithfully at 5am or earlier every morning. Fortunately this morning no radio.
Breakfast at 7.30am. Ready to be on the bus at 8am to do a 4 hour bus ride to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. It was a bumpy ride through a mountainous area with villages right against the road and close to the city the flatlands with cows on the road.
The sore throat was developing into a real cold with lots of blowing, so Eke asked for an extra roll of toilet paper!
We stopped at a dry fish market. Rows of stalls selling all the same thing: lots of dried fish and bags of small minnows. People just cook the minnows and eat them whole – no bones!
We had a local guide on the bus who told us about Vientiane; his life (he had been a monk for 10 years); he shared pictures of himself, his family and some of the guiding he has done. He loves singing so he sang a Laos song for us and an English one. He also asked us questions about our visit to Laos; what we liked, what was exciting etc. Then he taught us some things about Laos Buddhism: the precepts; Dukkha (suffering), the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and the 8 fold path to the end of suffering.
We checked into our hotel at noon in Vientiane and went out at 1pm for a quick lunch. Eke felt horrible by that time, shivering in 30 degree heat, so we went back to the room where she slept the rest of the day with a roll of toilet paper next to her head to catch the constant flow from her nose! Brian stayed for the afternoon and went out with the group for dinner to Makphet; a restaurant managed by former street youth and their teachers.
The group visited the Cope Centre in the afternoon, which is supported by Intrepid. The Centre helps people who are disabled either from birth or as a result of bombs. More than 230 million bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam war. There are still 80 million in the ground, unexploded ordanance (UXO). Laos was an innocent bystander in that war, but was used as a place to jettison the bombs that were not dropped on North Vietnam and before the bombers could land at their base.
The country has and is still suffering a lot.