Friday, October 23, 2009


Our arrival in Vientiane was uneventful other than the fact that none of us had slept well on the overnight bus, and Isaac's GI distress was getting worse. He decided to start the 3 day cycle of antibiotics that his GI doctor had prescribed. They are a new kind that only targets the bacteria in the GI track and don't effect the rest of your body (nonabsorbent). So Isaac will find some yogurt in the future to help replace the good bacteria.

Isaac slept most of the morning while I wrote blogs on our laptop and saved them for later (no internet in our place). Our place is not cheap ($16) by southern Laos standards (we are in the capital now), but was the best we could find with clean sheets and a clean bathroom, and later we found out it's in lonely planet which I didn't even know. We told the tuk tuk driver to take us here because I had found another place, next door, on tripadvisor and it ended up being double the price listed. It seems everything is quiet a bit more expensive then what lonely planet, tripadvisor, etc has listed. Not just hotel rooms, everything. That's probably due in part to the weak exchange rate for dollars. Lucky for us, it is all still cheap by US standards and we had budgeted for things to cost more.

The next day, after breakfast and internet time at the wi-fi place, the three of us headed out to see Pha That Luang, which Lonely Planet names "the most important national monument in Laos". It's a giant golden stupa that has been rebuilt several times over the last 200 years. It was pretty, but not terribly interesting for me. Still, it was nice to see and I got some good photos out of it. There was a young boy and older woman selling small caged birds (looked like sparrows, maybe) outside the temple, and I got a neat shot of that. They kept trying to sell them to us and I wasn't sure why, since I assume they are either for eating or for pets, or maybe to release as an offering at the temple. Anyways, they looked neat.

We went to lunch at Makphet, a restaurant that serves modern Lao food and trains former street children to be waiters and cooks. All of the profits go to the nonprofit that runs the place, and after being trained the teenagers/young adults can find work in other restaurants. It was nice to support the place and the food was really good, although I think I prefer the traditional Lao food to the modern Lao food. The flavors of the modern Lao food seemed a bit milder to me, but still delicious. Isaac got a really delicious watermelon/lime blended drink and even ended up ordering a second one, so you know it was good! The service was very good (as it has been everywhere in Laos) so I think they are doing a good job of training the street kids.

It was sooooo hot out, that we all decided to walk back to the hotel and shower. After the shower Kat decided to hang out in the cafes and Isaac and I decided, in the interest of cultural research and to put money in the hands of those who need it most, to get massages. After our $12 hour long massages we decided we hadn’t truly helped out and given the masseuses enough money, so we added on 1 hour foot massages. It was truly a selfless act on our part, I know. Of course when we found out the foot massages were only 50,000 kip each (8,500 kip= 1 dollar), we totally felt like we had robbed them. But they were very happy and we were totally blissed out, so all was good.

After the massages we found Kat and all decided to go to a nice French restaurant for our last night in Vientiane. We had an AMAZING meal of soup, salad, wild boar, venison, good wine, and a Belgian chocolate mousse for dessert. It was the best chocolate mousse any of us had ever had. Totally overly full after our decadent day, we waddled back to the hotel.

When we got to our room (Kat stopped by before going to her room to pick up something) we all remarked that it smelled strongly of body odor, which was weird because we all had been showering enough to keep the dreaded falang-stank off of us. After Kat left I sat down on the bed (which was strewn with our belongings, just as we had left it) when I noticed there were a few plastic bags with items wrapped in newspaper in them. They weren’t ours. Then I noticed a backpack on the floor that wasn’t our either (and turned out to be the source of the stank). What the what??????? We checked around and all of our stuff was still in the room, and the room had been locked. Isaac brought everything that wasn’t ours to the front desk and they were as perplexed as us. So I don’t know if they gave some drunk falangs our room key or put it in our room by mistake for them (although the hotel service certainly didn’t seem swank enough to do that). Hmmmm. Anyways, the stank left with the backpack and we slept with the manual slide bolt locked!

The next day Kat took a 9 hour bus ride to Luang Prabang and we took a 45 minute flight, since Isaac’s tummy was still upset. Next up: Luang Prabang!


moo said...

Yet another great entry! I'm always smiling (and hungry!) by the time I've finished reading, Hope Isaac's tummy feels better.

Jenny Peterson said...

I think we have the same exact picture of the stupa - same angle and everything. What hotel did you stay at? We thought it was expensive there too (compared to the rest of Laos). We had just come from spending about $8/nt for private room with private bath in Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.

Isaac said...

Moo: The GI issues are all gone now thanks :) And the food has been lovely!

Jenny: Lol, great minds and all that ;)

We stayed in a place next to the fountain. I have the name, but it's packed away in checked luggage... (writing from the Taipei airport).