Entering a Quite Capital

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 1 - Border Crossing, Town River Sunset
Woke up a bit after 3am to find that the bus had stopped moving. Was assuming this meant we were at the border and the reason we had stopped was because we couldnt go any further. Went back to sleep as best I could.

Woken up 30min before 7am and told to go to immigration. Did this but found the office was closed. Guessing due to the border not opening til 7am. Waited at the window then passed my passport through the window. This was looked at and then given to someone else who asked if I had gottenthe passport in Vietnam an whether it had come from australia. Told him I had gotten it from the embassy and after a bit more time it was finally stamped and handed back.

Started walking to the Loas border from here with some nice if somewhat chilly mountain views.

Made my way through Laos immigration which was fairly painless and then back onto the bus for another 5 or so hours to get to Vientiane. Arrive here a bit after lunch to blue skies and bloody hot weather. Wasnt 100% sure where I was dropped off but was guessing it was the center of town. While the streets here dont always seem to have a sign the direction to the river and the square we were dropped off at were enough of a landmarks to orientate myself.

Found the first hotel I tried had been closed so wandered to my second option. At $6.50 for a room it was nice enough. Since I still had a few hours of daylight decided to wander around the town a bit and see some of the temples.
Along the way heard a drum and saw people circling a building. Seems that some ceremony (no idea what) was going on. While watching the crowd could hear the rythem of the drum change depending on where in the circuit the people were. Also looked inside the temple before the people did their final loop and found that a head monk was seating at the head of the temple with monks running down both sides.

From here wandered the streets a bit and grabbed some pork Larp and mash Potato for lunch before wandering a bit more and making my way down to the river for sunset. Spent the rest of the afternoon here watching the sun set which was at first a vibrant orange and then bright red colour before finally fading.

On first impression found Loas to seem very peaceful and relaxed. Streets definately no where near as busy as Hanoi though the fact that the capitals population is 1/10th the size has something to do with it.

Definately nice to have some sun even if the heat feels intense. 

Day 2 - Town, Buddha Park
First thing first. Booked an overnight bus to 4000 Islands today since I wanted to minimise my time in the capital. Am likely to transit through here a couple more times before leaving Loas so no reason to dawdle given there is even less to do than Hanoi.

After having sorted out my ticket and checking out made my way to the local bus stations where I could get a bus to Buddha Park. For once the guidebook had some useful information in the form of a bus number to catch. Given the script here is all sqiggly line (guessing it is or at least is related to sanskrit) it impossible for me to read anything with the exception of the signs that also have roamn letters on them under the squiggles.

On the way to the bus station once again passed a number of temples with one large one in particular. Seems that Laos must be fairly religious given the number of temples/monastaries I have seen and the number of monks dressed in orange robes wandering the street. Keep finding all these temples look pretty new (well maintained) for the most part and highly decorated.

Once near the bus station I found what you normally find near such places. That is lots of people lining the side of the streets trying to sell various goods and produce to people coming to or leaving the city.

At the bus station managed to find the bus I needed even if I didnt trust the book 100%. It certainly helped seeing another foriegner on the bus who was talking to a monk. This gave me a bit more confidence I might get to where I wanted to go.

On the bus listened to the guy talking with the monk and found it interesting that almost all men become a monk for at least part of their lives. Seems that this practuce is beneficial to their future prospects in life though I didnt quite get why.

After an hour so so on the nbus made it out to buddha Park which as the name suggests was a park full of buddha statues. Wandered through the mouth of one statue to get to the top of the tower as well as wandering around the park looking at the many different types of statues before heading back to the road. Here I decided to walk a bit and keep an eye out for the bus. Definately hot.

Thankfully wasnt to long before a bus showed up to take me back to town where I continued my wandering. This time headed towards the tower I had seen earlier in the day and bought the ticket to climb up it. Had some nice views of the city from up here. As you might guess the place was mostly flat with no real tall buildings.

Headed back towards the hotel from here past a few more interesting buildings and stopped off for dinner at an indian restuarant along the way. after food had to wait for my pickup from the hotel which was late. Was suppose to have an 8pm sleeper bus but didnt get to the station until 8:30pm. Thankfully the bus was still there waiting.

Unlike the sleeper buses in Vietnam this bus didnt have indivdual recliner seats. Instead it had a double mattress booth. If your a couple this wouldnt be to bad since its flat and has plenty of room. On the otherhand given I was sharing with a guy (heads at different ends) I think I would have preferred the seats (with my own space ) to the bed where no divider exists.

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