Well, here we are in our third different country of the trip so far. Laos. And it is very nice. We left Vietnam on a sleeper bus with a guy named Bill and a girl named Joe. We then arrived in Laos 24hours later with a guy named Bill and a girl named Joe. Please understand that there were other people present but I simply can't remember their names. With visas in our passports we took in the AMAZING scenery as our bus snaked it's way through the mountains and along the rivers until we reached our destination.
Our first stop in Laos turned out to be the capital city, Vientiene. Unlike Bangkok and Hanoi which were both crammed full of people Vientiene is little bigger than Thame! The first couple of days we did very little. Partly from tiredness and partly due to the fact that we had no money! The lovely people of nationawide neglecting to tell us our cards wouldn't work for 24 hours due to maintenence! Being told by every ATM in a country without a British Embassy that your card is invalid is not a fun experience. After that was sorted and we had filled our wallets with lovely Kip we started to exlpore the city.
First we walked to Pha That Luang, the golden monument just on the edge of town. This huge, golden monument is one of the most important in Laos. We got to see two of it's three levels but unfortunalty the third was closed. Also, during our stay we visited the Patuxai (picured above). This is basically a rip off of he Arc De Triomphe in Paris. We climbed to the top and got to enjoy brilliant views of the whole city stretching rite out to the Mekong river. The best thing about this particular place was how it was built! Just after America had bombed the crap out of Laos during the war they donated a large amount of concrete to the Laos people to build a new airport runway. The Laos people decided they would much rather have a big concrete Arc De Triomphe insted ... So they built one! Simple as.
The rest of our time in the capital was spent lazily touring different bars and resteraunts. Drinking many, many BeerLaos, (definatly the best beer I've had) and reading. Apart from one crazy nite when I bowed down to pressure from both home (mother) and the heat and got my hair cut! Although I did find out that all Laos haircuts come with complimentory neck massage and ear cleaning service so ... at least I learned something new!
So that is the first of the three places we plan to visit in Laos done and dusted. Next stop is Vang Vieng. Tubing central. I believe it is a law that every person visiting Laos has to go tubing before they are allowed to leave. We shall see.