The sleeper bus trip to Vang Vieng would have to be rated my number two worse transportation experience I have experience, next to my train trip from Beijing to Xian, China. I ended up finding a bunk that was not being used, so I grabbed my stuff and moved. The only benefit I acquired would be space. They had the roof doors open, causing cold air to blow on me the whole night. I was freezing and was bundled up in my winter jacket, fleece, scarf, and wrapped in a thin blanket. Another really screwed up thing was that the bus driver was blasting what I believe was Indian music throughout the bus. This makes no sense on an overnight sleeper bus. The worst part was that they didn’t even let us know when the stop at Vang Viang was. We ended up in Vientaine, three hours south of out target. We were a bit upset about this and when we asked the driver why he did not wake us up, he just smiled and laughed. I think the music and all the other BS was just a good laugh for him. There was even one point in the trip where the drivers stopped the bus in the mountains and built a bonfire on the side of the road. Overall, a messed up experience.
We went into town and got some breakfast to reassess our plans getting out of whack. We decided to rent bikes from another guesthouse for a few hours, see Vientiane, and grab the 2:00PM bus back up to Vang Vieng. We figured, we may never be in this part of the world again, so we might as well back-track and see all the things we planned to see.
On our bikes we go!! We found the layout of Vientiane was very easy to follow. I pulled up the map and GPS on my phone and we first went to the statue of King Anuwong. He led the Laoatian Rebellion (1826-1826) and was the last monarch of the Lao Kingdom of Vientiane. Behind him is the Presidential Palace.
Sort of behind the palace was an old looking temple called Haw Pha Kaew. It was built specifically to hold the Emerald Buddha, which is now on Bangkok. I actually did see this statue on my trip to Bangkok 4 years ago!! This place has been destroyed and rebuilt three times for different reasons.
After taking in this temple, we went across the street to Wat Si Saket. It was built in 1818 and survived the Siam army sacking the city in 1827. This is the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane.
As we were biking around we the spotted Patuxai (meaning Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph), an archway that reminds me of the one in France. It is a war memorial, built between 1957 and 1968, dedicated to those who actually fought for independence from France We rode to it and went up to the top to get a view of the city.
After this we headed back to the guesthouse we rented the bikes from and got on a bus back to Vang Vieng. Hoping this back-tracking is worth it!! We also found out that our friend Hsien will be taking the sleeper bus that night also. So, because she will arrive at 4 AM, I’ll hopefully be able to let her know where I’m staying so she doesn’t have to find a place and pay full price anywhere! Until tomorrow 🙂