19.11.2010 - 20.11.2010 30 °C
We booked places on a coach to take us from Vang Vieng to the capital of Laos, 'Vientiane' having decided to avoid another 'mini-van' experience and as we waited outside our guesthouse for a Tuk Tuk to pick us up and take us to the bus station, a mini-van pulled up and informed us that we were going in that as the coach was not running... great!! The journey was much shorter and on a straighter road than our previous and the air conditioning actually worked! As our minivan made it's way into the centre of Vientiane we got the impression that it was more the size of a town, than a city. Vientiane was settled by the French and as we walked to our hostel we saw French Patisseries, Bakers selling baguettes and French restaurants mixed in to the Laos shops and restaurants. As with Luang Prabang, there were many French tourists in the city. Having checked into our hotel for the evening, we walked along the river front an area that is in the process of being newly developed with a large block paving terrace and gardens. The city itself contained the usual tourist gift shops etc. but was nothing to write home about. The bars and restaurants were quiet and as we walked to the very small night market, the city felt kind of deserted. The next morning we booked a flight to Hanoi for the afternoon and then took a Tuk Tuk across town to Pha That Luang. This is a golden monument, apparently the most important in Laos as it's a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty. There was a big event taking place outside the Temple area, with a stage set-up, a huge outdoor market with hundreds of stalls and processions of locals dressed in costumes. It was a flying visit to Pha That Luang as our Tuk Tuk was waiting outside to take us to the airport. We only spent one night in Vientiane and we felt that was enough, however we would have liked to spend more time in Laos, the people were always friendly and smiling and the areas of the country that we saw were very scenic. Thankfully we also enjoyed lovely sunny weather each day of our time in Laos. Luang Prabang was the highlight for us and we still have the South of the country to explore, but unfortunately we don't have time on this trip.