Day 1: We woke up on the train around 6:45am with the conductor coming round to put the beds away and turn the carriage back into seats. We'd been warned that although the train was scheduled to arrived at 7:30am, that it'd actually arrive at 9:30am. Sure enough we pulled into Nong Khai station at 9:32am. We gathered our stuff and talked the 1.5km to the Thai-Laos border at the "Friendship Bridge".
At the bridge we paid the $35 for our Laos visas and got a minibus with 2 guys from Oz (Lewis and Wilson),
arriving in Vientiane just after midday. All 4 of us decided to walked from the bus station to the hostel on near the river (where all the tourist places are located). Checked into our hotel (Laos Silk Hotel).
We had a late snack (/meal) of Laos curry at about 4pm, then had a bit of an explore around town. We visited a couple of Wats, one with a cool drum tower and another with a impressive old tree surrounded by different Buddhas at it's base.
After we left the Wats we partook in some happy hour beers (Laos Beer - a great lager - Carlsberg bought a large stake in the company to improve it, but found it consistently won blind taste tests).
For a late dinner we ended up having another curry this time at an Indian restaurant, I thought it was ok (it was the cheapest Indian we found) but Alicia wasn't impressed.
We wanted to see some of the wider sights in Vientiane, there were seemly hundreds of Wats lining most streets, but we decided to go up the arch de triumph-esque building that afforded us views over the whole city.
After we walked down a big road in the sun, shade hopping, we visited a large golden Stupa called Pha That Luang which was built to hold Buddhas breast bone. The surrounding buildings were more impressive though. One in particular Wat held a huge Buddha laying on its side and a temple that had all the Buddist stories excellently painted all over the walls and ceilings.
We visited 2 other temples before getting a tuk tuk back to the hotel for 20,000kip (about £1.70) and took a nap.
I wasn't feeling very well (again!!), and after we woke up watched a crap film called Hop on tv (Alicia: it was brilliant and v. Educational re: Easter happenings) before heading out.
In the evening we walked to see the small night market, which was basically only food stalls - the street food looked amazing but we decided not to chance it.
Before going to get some food we went to check out a fountain. It was all lit up with changing coloured lights and surrounded by seats from restaurants and bars. So we stayed for a beer at the fountains edge before heading off.
On the way back to the river we stopped and saw another brick stupa, it was nice but wasn't as impressive.
We headed for some food back at the water front before they all closed. We went to a local restaurant that didn't look that great, but the food was fine and it was cheap (62,000 kip for two meals and 3 drinks). I had Laos style pork noodles and Alicia had red curry with sticky rice.
Alicia picked up our washing over the road from the hostel at 8. We checked out of Lao Silk 9:15am then waited for the bus to Vang Vieng. The bus was typically late so a 3 hour journey turned into 4 and a bit, but the trip was pleasant enough.