Vientiane, Laos (Day 14 & 15)

Day 14

We took the 9 AM bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane today. When we got into town, Daniel, Nadine, and Hsien booked a night bus south to Pakse, Laos. I will be sticking around until Sunday night to catch a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Daniel, Nadine, and I did have time to go to the Buddha Park outside of town. We grabbed some lunch first, and then worked our way to the bus stop. Many tuk-tuk drivers were trying to offer 150,000 Kip ($18.70 US) to take us there and back, but we chose to take the bus for 6,000 Kip to the Thailand-Laos boarder. We then ended up paying 10,000 Kip each to get to the park. Boy was that a bumpy ride!!! I was not expecting much at the park, but when I walked in it was like a Buddha grave yard. I was really impressed. Here are a few shots.

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After the park, we had to make our way back. Our options were limited because the park was closing and our tuk-tuk guy was our only means of transportation. We ended up paying him 40,000 Kip each to take us right back into town. In the end, we probably should have got a tuk-tuk from town, but that is the art of travel. As a traveler, we often rely on our guide books and word of mouth to avoid getting ripped off. Plus, many of us travel for long periods of time, so we look to find cost effective ways of doing things, most often. In the end, ya win some and ya lose some of the travel cost battles. Always a learning experience though 😉

When we finally got back, we had about 30-45 minutes before the bus picked my new traveling friends up. My entire trip through Laos, from the boarder to Vientiane, has been an awesome traveling experience. If I did it on my own, as I had planned, I would have missed out on so many moments. To Nadine, Daniel, and Hsien… thanks for the wonderful time traveling with you guys. I hope the friendship we made will continue and hopefully allow us to cross paths again soon!! Boo ya^^

Day 15

I’m stuck here in Vientiane, Laos all day waiting for an 8 PM flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. While I was looking at pictures of Laos in Google, I saw a few places I had not been to yet. One of them was right here in Vientiane and probably considered the “iconic” building of Laos, similar to the Eiffel Tower in France or Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. So, what do I do? I rented a bike and headed over to take some pictures of things in the area.

The first stop I made was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Monument.

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From here I then made it to the Pha That Luang! In front of it is a statue of King Settathirath (1534-1572). “He is considered one of the great leaders in Lao history. Throughout 1560s until his death, he successfully defended his kingdom of Lan Xang against military campaigns of Burmese conqueror Bayinnaung, who had already subdued Xieng Mai (Chiang Mai) in 1558 and Ayutthaya in 1564. Setthathirath was a prolific builder and erected many Buddhist monuments including Wat Xieng Thong in Louang Phrabang and the That Luang in Vientiane.” (Wikipedia).

The Phu That Luang is believed to have been originally built in the third century as a Hindu temple. It has been destroyed or damaged numerous times over the centuries because of invasions. The last reconstruction took place after WWII.

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I’m glad I made the short trip, just because it bugs me if I learn about a place I could have seen when I was somewhere and didn’t know about it. I guess that’s what I get for not researching much and flying by the seat of my pants. Pretty much the way I have been traveling the last two weeks.

Well, that’s it for Laos!! I’m just sitting around at a coffee shop waiting for my flight and doing a “little” planning for the next two weeks in Nam. Trying to work out the timing I need to do a three day/ two night boat trip in Halong Bay and see Ho Chi Minh’s body in Hanoi, because there is no viewing on Monday and Friday. He is part of my Dead Dictator Tour. Saw Mao in China a few years back. Ho Chi Minh will be #2. Lenin and the Kim family will make a full house!!

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