Vientiane -- this time i remember the city

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 19, 2008

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Thursday, December 6, 2007

This morning, as we were leaving the guesthouse, we saw a row of monks walking pass all the houses in the street and collecting sticky rice and other food - from mainly women. This practice is quite famous in Luang Prabang, and in the main tourist area it has become another tourist attraction, in which foreigners are allowed to participate, but encourage to learn first about the tradition to avoid offending the monks and the people giving them food. The monks are giving a chance to people to accummulate good karma by giving them food. As monks are mainly praying for the world peace, specially in tibetan budishm, they are quite sacred and holy. So people pray when they come past. I wanted to get up yesterday early to go and see them in town, but in the end i did not manage, they are walking really early at about 6 am. So it was a cool surprise, and when they are walking around people speak really low, i couldn't hear the rickshaw driver telling us to leave already.

We arrived to the Bus station and took the 8.30 in the morning bus to Vientiane. The last time I was here with my sister, we had a great time partying, so i don't think we did much sightseeing, as i could not remember much from the city as we drove from the station to the guesthouse which we had chosen.
The bus ride this time was a bit too long, actually the landscape from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, is the spectacular limestone mountains that i described in the entry before this one, so it has to be amended.

Laos is still quite underdeveloped outside the two main cities, in the sense that many people still live carrying stuff on their heads, lots of children are playing or helping with the adult's shores around their houses at school time, agriculture is big, the houses are made out hay and in the tribal villages, they survive mainly from what they can obtain from the land and now from the money that they get from tourism. On the other hand, it can be seen that the country is getting more income now, as more big houses and buildings are being constructed. There are quite a lot of building work going on at the moment.

Something not so good, actually rather crap, is the system they use to plant rubber trees, they just cut all the trees in an area and plant rubber trees. This makes the soil infertile after a while, so it is a good solution in a short term but it is not good for the long term.

We arrived to Vientiane and found a room in a friendly guesthouse, ran by a family and the mother is about to give birth to her third child. One of the ladies working here had a racket with electricity to kill mosquitos, as soon as chiel saw it, his faces lit up. So we left the guesthouse in a mission to buy our own racket and have dinner.

Since yesterday was sinterklaas and I got my present, I thought that the racket would be the perfect present for chiel, and we found a shop which sold it really quickly. He was so happy killing any mosquito that came our way. We had dinner at the night market and then went back to sleep since we were quite tired from the trip and so on.

Following morning we rented two bycicles to get to know the city and also to go to the Cambodian embassy, to get our visas. We found the embassy quite easily and they told us that we could pick them up at four o'clock that same day and only paying 40$. After that we went to have breakfast and to visit the posh settha palace hotel. It was quite funny arriving to this hotel by bicycle.

I have enjoyed cycling around the city quite a lot, actually you get to see way many more things, as you go quicker. We went to visit a temple and also the arch de triumph. I think that I am going to enjoying cycling around holland quite a lot. At least I hope so.

At four o'clock we went to pick up the visa, and they had actually written my name with only one surname and being spanish I have two surnames. The Laos-Cambodian crossing is famous because the guards are trying to get money off you all the time, so actually now they might have a reason. So i asked the person at the embassy if it was ok, and he said that it would be no problem!!!! I will tell you once we cross the border. On the way back from the embassy chiel mentioned that we have about four weeks left, and it actually hit me, that time is really going fast!!!!!!!!

Quite close to the guesthouse, we came past a noisy place with a sign at the door, saying something like "shooting ....", chiel was curious but did not go in, and then i went in and saw that we could actually fire real guns with bullets and a paper target, just like in the movies. We obviously had a try and Chiel is quite good. I was better the second time I tried. I will show you the targets with the holes once we get home.

In the evening we went to have dinner, but chiel did not feel like eating, so i had a salad, and when i finished we went to a sushi restaurant for him to have dinner.

This city has a lot of french influence in the buildings, and also in the avenues. It feels like a village but the city is quite big, is laid-back and relaxed. I must say that i have enjoyed Vientiane very much this time.
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