Have to say the best thing about my stay has been the peace and quiet. Over the last 3 days I have read two books and spent too many hours just sat in the fresh air. Vientiane is a lovely little town without the noise and height of Bangkok, by that I mean I could see the sky as I walked around. It still has a very French influence, apparently the French government give Laos money to keep it like this.The street names are in French and there are baguette sandwich makers on every street.
Lee was holed up in work and then his bed on Friday, so after a read I jumped on a tuk-tuk into town and wandered between Wats (temples) and shops.Jules had handily taught me thank you and the numbers are the same as Thai. Having lunch near Nan Plau I swear I saw Jimmy Saville (he kissed my hand once, so I do know what he looks like), oddly this guy was dressed normally, not in the trade mark garish shell suit and as the old man got closer I realised it was an old lady, oopps and sorry.Lao beer still playing with my mind.
My day ended in a slightly bizarre way, bizarre in terms of being surreal.Lee and I headed to Spirit House (owned and run by Ging and friends).We met some more friends, Lee went home and Ging and Jules invited me to stay out.We ended up in an absolutely buzzing place called Sticky Fingers.Love this country 25,000kip will get you a home measure of gin and tonic.Meet loads of random people who mostly seemed to work for NGOs and government departments.
Ended up by midnight in the bowling alley with a Kiwi, a Kiwi who claims to be an Aussie, an Irish lass (who left a permanent mark when I cunningly put her cigarette out on the back of my hand), a Polish man and a Loa doctor.Needless to say my night was complete when I won!!
Vientiane's night life seems to start closing down around 11pm and by midnight it is almost impossible to get a tuk-tuk, thank goodness for chauffeur extraordinaire, Jules and her cool scooter made for two.
My journey back to Bangkok was uneventful, except my flight being delayed three hours and the fact that they make you pay to get into Laos and then charge you to get out, bloody cheek.What if I had refused would I have had to live out my days on Friendship Bridge?
The thing that made the biggest impression on me was the monks all around you.Their robes were the most magnificent orange, really bright, but not garish. On mass in the back of a pick up (all with white flannels on their heads) or simply walking alone down the street shading themselves with an umbrella they oozed serenity and commanded respect.IN both Laos and Thailand boys are expected to complete an apprenticeship as a monk.It is respectful to their families and shows devotion to Buddhism, as well as a desire to learn.It may last three weeks or turn into a life times calling, but every boy or young man I have seen in robes seems to be taking it very seriously, even the King of Thailand spent time as a monk in his younger years.Those of you who have travelled with me before will know that I am a picture fiend, but despite all the great images I saw, I couldn't bring myself to snap the monks, it just seemed wrong.I felt guilt about the two pictures I did get.
All in all Laos was just what the doctor ordered, complete rest and relaxation and some new people.