After a quick flight from Bangkok, I arrived in Vientiane, Laos. Although it is the capital, it is a very slow-paced, laid-back city, with no high-rise buildings, making it quite the change from Bangkok! The first afternoon I spent time walking around the city and getting my bearings. In the evening, I made my way down to the Mekong River where there is a large night market with all kinds of street food, clothing, electronics, and amusement rides for the kids. It was fun and lively! I sat down for some yummy fried rice, and later, was interviewed by a couple of boys doing a school project. They had several questions put together for foreigners to learn about their impressions of the Lao people and the food. They were really sweet and trying so hard to speak English.
The second day, I got up early so I could venture out a bit further before the intense heat set in. I made my way across town to Patuxai, a huge war monument and victory arch, dedicated to those who fought for independence from France. Funny, it was completed in 1968, using funds donated by the U.S. that were meant to be used for the construction of a new airport. Because of this, it is nicknamed “The Vertical Runway”, stunning!
After taking lots of arch pics, I walked to the far end of Patuxai Park, and was surprised to find the World Peace Gong, gifted to Laos by the World Peace Committee. Apparently, there are several of these around the world. It is kind of a bummer very few people wander down to this end of the park to see this amazing gong! I just wish I would have had a mallet to give it a good gong!
By this time, the sun was beating me up, so I headed back to the hotel for a bit of rest and cooldown. Later, I went down to the river again, this time finding a busy street food market. There was a lot of things that were a bit out of my comfort zone, such as chicken feet, and lots of sushi that looked good, but in the heat…ugh, so I settled on some fresh coconut ice cream and potato chips on a stick for dinner. Maybe not my healthiest meal, but it was fun!
For my last day in Vientiane, I hired a driver to take me about 40 minutes out of the city to Buddha Park. This was definitely the highlight of my time here. I headed out early to arrive at 8:00 when it opened. I was the first one in the park, and the only one for about an hour and a half which was amazing! After getting some good pictures, I was able to sit and relax amongst the beautiful flowers and powerful statues for a nice meditation.
After Buddha Park, he took me to see Pha That Luang, a gold painted Buddhist stupa, originally built in 1566, and considered the national symbol of Laos. This stupa has undergone many repairs and renovations due to foreign invasions over the years, with the most recent in the 1930’s when the French restored it to its original design. The lady out front in the photo below was selling birds to release in the temple.
And that’s what I have on Vientiane. Sorry for the delay in posting as the WI-FI here is super slow just like the pace of life….but, I’m having a great time and there’s much more fun stuff coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Hugs,