By the time yesterday morning rolled around, I was so sick and tired of Vang Vieng I wanted to get the hell out of there pronto! Unfortunately, sleeping was one of my priorities, having had several sleepless nights in the past few days, so I slept past the first bus departure of the day. The next didn’t leave until 1:30pm!
Killing time in Vang Vieng was rather agonizing. Should I just lounge around all morning watching “The Simpsons” while eating crappy overpriced food? Or should I wander the same stretch of town I’ve been by about three times already? I chose the latter and even succeeded in wandering a few dirt side streets (and took a few photos as well). So this is what small town Laos was like without the tourists!
The “VIP” bus to Vientiane (Pronounced Wieng-Chan) was 100% full of backpackers. The only Laos aboard were staff. That should perhaps dictate just what sort of experience it was. I did have a wonderful conversation with the Dutch fellow sitting next to me, as well as a Swiss fellow on my other side. What was nice about the tourist bus was that they dropped us right in the middle of town, as opposed to the bus station, which was quite a ways away.
Arrival meant the fun game of wandering to find cheap accommodation. Vientiane is the biggest city in Laos, yet still has quite a small town feel too it (it feels quite Thai, as well, which figures, as I can see Thailand across the Mekong River). I wandered with a Japanese fellow as well as an Australian one, and ended up sharing a room with both of them for about 28,000 kip a piece (about US$3.50) in a relatively quiet area, a few blocks from all the foreigner hangout spots!
Determined to escape the throngs of Westerners, we found a nice place packed with Lao folk and took a seat. Not only was the food considerably cheaper, but it was quite tasty as well (a major improvement over Vang Vieng). What was funny was that after we sat down, several Western couples decided to eat there as well.
After dinner, we wandered over to the incredibly low Mekong River, only to discover that several impromptu restaurants had been set up on the now recessed river bed. What could be better than to kick back, relax and enjoy a few Beerlao’s , sitting along the banks of one of Asia’s greatest rivers, right on the cusp of the Golden Triangle.