Leaving Vientiane, looking forward to Vang Vieng

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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Where I stayed
Douang Deuane Hotel

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I am leaving on the 2 p.m. bus for the 3 hour ride to Vang Vieng.  I have come to understand and appreciate Vientiane in the 3 days I have been here as I cannot believe the progress they are making, in this heat, in tearing up old cement sidewalks and making new brick ones, in repaving roads etc. You can tell that tourism money is enabling them to respond in kind, to build infrastructure which will attract new tourism etc.  Laos is also introducing sustainable tourism, tourists take package trips visiting local villages which host meals, accommodation, including a nightly massage.  Massages are so cheap in Thailand and Laos, about $3.50 for a one hour Thai or Laos massage; similar to what I'm used to but Thai massage is with clothes on!  Then there is oil massage, foot, face neck and shoulders massage etc. Many locals also have massages but one can tell that many services here (lots of internet providers, photo shops, massage, laundries. guesthouses, restaurants etc.) have only sprung up to support tourism. And I cannot believe what t hey must have lived on before, as there is so much poverty, and people work so hard. Those running the food stalls or kiosks are there early in the morning until late at night, in the heat, although it does cool down in the evening.  Last night I went to a nightly Traditional dance performance supported by the MInistry of Culture and Tourism. Only 4 people in the audience, Soulange from Normandy and I, and two from England.  It was a shame as there were 4 musicians and about 10 dancers; each dance was performed by a different subset of dancers in different traditional costumes and for the last dance, we had to get up with them and learn the hand movements and steps. I have been taking many pics but have so many on my disk that I cannot upload but have now downloaded to CD and erased my disk so hope I can upload from last night and some pics I took this a.m. of the sidewalk making etc.
Anyway, Vientiane still reminds me of a spaghetti western locale of New Mexico; just waiting for the horses and tumbleweed to arrive. Many men loaf around, no jobs I guess, but the women are all busy... hmm and if I had a kip for every time a tuktuk driver says to me "Madame, tuktuk?" while I am walking down the street, obviously not in search of a tuktuk, I would be rich!  I think they keep asking just to relieve their boredom, as there are so many of them parked around.   But if you want one at about 1 p.m. you are out of luck, as the drivers are stretched out in their seats, or on park benches etc., sleeping.  Again they are early on the job, late home.
By the way, fresh fruit or vegetable shakes (blended, with ice) such as pineapple, mango, watermelon, sparadillo, starfruit or carrot can be had at any time from a street vendor for about 50 cents.  Really filling and so healthy!
I did change guesthouses; actually I went to the Douang Deuane hotel and for the same price, $15 US, I got a bigger room with hardwood floors, cable tv, aircon working!, fan and full American breakfast! 
I now have my Cambodian Visa, good for 3 months so am visa rich now with one each for  Vietnam and Cambodia.  The Quebec couple I met found North Vietnam very unfriendly and exploitive. I will see.  Just waiting to hear where I'll meet up with Brother Brian and Carolyn before I making further plans out of Laos.
Tried again to update photos, no luck, very frustrating!
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