Vientiane

The sleepy capital, as it is known. Rush hour here is like taking a stroll in a deserted town in the wilderness at least of you compare to Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, or even Hanoi.
Some people describe Laos as Thailand 30 years ago. I have no idea if it is true but it is less developed and when I went lots of roads with pot holes. However it was also a place with friendly and kind people. The level of English wasn’t that high but the kindness of people was evident.
I went on a short trip from Northern Thailand to Vientiane before flying to Cambodia. If I had more time I would have liked to explore the Plain or Jars and Luang Prabang. I had only a glimpse of Laos and it has always been my intention to be back.

The city has a kind of relaxed ambiance. I was present during a major Buddhist ceremony when I saw the impressive Golden Temple (Pha That Luang). The golden covered temple is a considered to be the most important monument and temple throughout Laos.
I stayed at the Novotel and visited the disco there where I met a Laotian guy who spoke good English and showed me several other places. The Novotel disco was full of teenagers who probably few from normal restrictions seemed to drink an incredible amount. The mood was friendly.
I also had the traditional Lao food laap with sticky rice. There are variations and what I tried was certainly nice and inexpensive.

I also met my kind friend Pey, who I had I had met via Yahoo Messenger.
She cooked a nice Laotian meal and showed me several places as well as kindly driving me to the border when I departed.

Another place worth seeing is worth seeing is Patuxai, a slightly taller Lao rendition of the Arch de Triomphe built from concrete supplied by the US for building a runaway.
Anyway at least it was not put to waste. The view is nice although the monument suffers from a terrible English translation.
It says “From a closer distance it appears even less impressive like a monster of concrete”!
That aside it may be a monster of concrete but it is impressive and not a monster as in ugly at all. It looks quite nice indeed.

Although the people are friendly the Lonely Planet had once described the police here as the best that money can buy. Fortunately I never had to test that theory out. The country still has very strict laws and strict enforcement especially outside Vientiane.

Also well known is that according to Lao law a foreigner having any kind of sexual relations with a Lao (often expressed as between a foreign man and woman but it is actually both ways) when they are not married is heavily punished. I.e. by jail time (and then deportation) and a heavy fine which the US embassy (according to Wikitravel) is US$5000.

Vientiane is a nice city in a very nice country. I have to visit the plain of jars and also Luang Prabang next time.

Please note this is a very old album, and pictures were not taken with a high resolution.