Goodbye Cambodia, Hello Laos

Trip Start Mar 21, 2010
Trip End Mar 16, 2011

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Viangchan,
Monday, April 19, 2010

19 APRIL 2010 - This morning we still didn’t receive our confirmation from the guesthouse in Vientiane so we will just have to find somewhere to stay when we get there.  Mr Long our tuk tuk driver for the past 3 days took us to the airport at 8am.  We arrived at Siem Reap International Airport and checked in at the Lao Airlines counter.  The girl said to us we weren’t on the system so I thought great we have been ripped off.  The girl asked us to take a seat for a while but we just stood at the counter feeling really pissed off.  Apparently what had happened the travel agent that our guest house used booked Troy on today’s flight and me on the next day.  We told the guy at our guesthouse the night before that this was an error and the travel agent assured Troy everything would be fine on the day.  So we waited and waited and finally we got on, Troy saw the flight list and my name wasn’t on it.  Anyway we both got our boarding passes and looked around the shops.  The Siem Reap airport is very nice, small and modern compared to all the other airports we have seen.  We were due to fly out to Vientiane at 10:20am but we left at 9:40am so we have no idea why we left early.  It was a small buzz box and the flight was fine but we happen to have two most annoying Germans behind us that we talking so loudly, right down our ears and would never shut up. The plane was full of Germans and all had one volume - very loud, I thought Italians were bad but I am wrong there are worse. We flew for an hour and stopped at Savannakhet airport and went through customs to pay for our visa which was US$31 each - no such thing as speedy service here.  We waited for about 1 hr and then were due to fly out at 12:20pm but once again we left 1/2 hr earlier.  We just guessed that everyone they want is on the flight so we just go earlier.  

We arrived in Vientiane airport which is very shabby and small and collected our luggage.  We caught a taxi (US$6) to the guesthouse we wanted to stay at hoping they would have a room.  As we were driving in we thought that this town is so much cleaner than a lot of places we have been to and where is the traffic?  and my god there seems to be some order on the roads.  What a change.  The guesthouse had a room for US$29 per night which was the most expensive we have paid.  We couldn’t be bothered walking around the city with our backpacks and in the heat so we grabbed the room.  The staff aren’t very friendly.  We settled in the room, which was smaller enough to just swing a cat.  We went for a short walk around town.  We stopped in a bakery for some late lunch, pizza and cake, Yum!  We had to grab some kip (7,300 kip = $1AUD).  It was too hot so we went back to our room again too cool down for a while.  We heard thunder and lightning for a while and then we went across the road to a bakery and had a light dinner.  As we walked across the road it was raining lightly and it was so much cooler - Mary decides to do a rain dance in the middle of the road, it was so nice.  
20 APRIL 2010 - Vientiane is dangerous - too many good French bakeries. Everywhere you look there is a bakery. Vientiane is a very French influenced capital with lots of great bakeries and French mansions. It seems to be an easier place to get around on foot, the roads are cleaner and the footpaths are well maintained. A lot of the locals drive pretty flash cars here, lots of 4WD’s, Mercs, Lexus and all in good condition.  After breakfast in the guesthouse which was a “French breakfast” consisting of slices of baguette with jam, butter, juice and fruit.  This morning it seemed a bit cooler so it was rather pleasant to walk around.  On our way to the “Patuxai - Vientiane’s not so great Arc de Triompe replica” we came across the Morning Markets so we walked around them for a while and once again they seemed to be some sort of order and the stalls seemed neater and you could actually walk around easily, now that is a first.  The shop assistants didn’t seem to worry about trying to sell us much so that was a nice change too.  

We got to the Patuxai (replica of the Arc de Triompe) and Troy climbed it and Mary couldn’t be bothered and just sat around watching the monks of all ages in their bright orange robes eating icecream.  We then caught a tuk tuk (they have fixed prices and aren’t cheap) to get to the “Pha That Luang” - the golden stupa and the most important national monument in Laos. We got there 10 minutes before closing time so we decided to wait 1 hr for them to re-open.  We sat around in the park and just relaxed.  It was getting really hot now and we were soaked.  We finally go into the Pha That Luang and walked around for a while.  It was just a big gold monument and didn’t seem to be anything very special. We think the monument looked better from a distance than close up as there isn’t much inside. We caught another tuk tuk to the Lao National History Museum where Mary was bored out of her brains and so hot and bothered and Troy walked around much more interested as Mary really couldn’t give a shit - If you haven’t already guessed I am not one for museums. 

On our way home we stopped at the Scandinavian Bakery where we had a late lunch. Mary ordered a chicken sandwich and when it came it was huge.  It was 1/2 baguette with satay chicken, lettuce, cucumber and tomato.  It was so big that all the staff were looking at me because our reaction to getting it made them laugh.  Well I didn’t expect it to be so big.  

Vientiane is definitely more expensive, we think that Vietnam was cheapest then Cambodia and Laos but its still cheaper than home. Majority of the locals that we have come across in Vientiane aren’t friendly, the least friendliest place we have come across so far.     

We keep watching the news as who knows if we will get out of Bangkok because of the riots and be able to arrive in Rome because of the volcanic ash - Arrrrr the joys of travelling, we will get to Rome no matter what.  As far as we are aware Rome airport is still open and hopefully the riots will calm down by early May.     

21 APRIL 2010 - We get up later than normal which is good, we tend to have to many early mornings.  After having pineapple pancakes for breakfast at our guesthouse we decide its a slack day today.  After talking to Tony via skype we head back to our room to chill out.  We both feel pretty worn out, I think the heat is getting to us now. Today and yesterday have been very very hot. In our room and we get a black out so the airconditioning dies so we decide to head out and have lunch at the Joma Bakery, a pretty cool funky bakery and Mary’s favourite so far.  Troy digs into a lasagna which looked pretty good and I had mushroom quiche and salad and the best ever banana fruit shake.  The fruit shakes throughout Asia are great and some places make the better than others - this bakery makes the best ones I think.  

After lunch we went for a walk around for a while checking out a few sights and shops and come across a few old vespas.  After a while we decided to come home and watch a DVD which Troy just bought from the local supermarket 10,000 kip (about $1.30) so we will see if it works.  The ones we bought in Vietnam have poor sound quality.  Tomorrow we head off by bus to Vang Vieng.

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Suellyn on

Hi you two. It's about midnight Saturday and just about to go to bed. Dad's sailing this weekend so home alone. Had a quiet day - just housework, reading and helped Karina with a couple of job applications this afternoon. Connie came home from hospital last night. All tests came back clear so that's good news but she still doesn't have much energy. Hopefully if she takes things easy she'll come good. I'm going to Sydney tomorrow to see Mum and Dad. Dib has been moved into the same room as Betty so I hope that works out OK. She had a fall yesterday and they assure me she is alright but I am anxious to see for myself. It was great to catch up on skype the other night - great to hear your voices and see your faces. We're missing you but know you're having a great time. Anyway had better go as I'm really tired. Love reading your blog. Keep it coming. You're photos are great too. You'll have to write the book when you get home. Love you lots. Mum xx

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