Unexpected trip to Vientiane, Lao

IMG_20150618_141041Lao was a place I had wanted to visit but didn’t expect to go the weekend I went. Due to unexpected visa reasons, I had to get out of Thailand before my visa ran out. I could have just done an overnight trip but I decided I would make a long weekend of it.IMG_20150618_131938

After leaving school, I headed to On Nut BTS to catch a mini van with a company that sorts out visa trips, hassle-free. They literally take your passport and you fill in some paperwork and away you go. The journey was pretty standard except on the way, the van got hit by some rubble that had flown off a lorry. The noise made everyone wake up and we had to hang out on the side of the road. The van just a long gauge but there wasn’t much anyone could do about it. The people in the van IMG_20150619_171048were all doing the same thing but most of them weren’t very chatty. We arrived on the Thai border at 5 in the morning, where we had to wait until it opened. It was crowded with foreigner all wanting to sort out their visa. Here, I happened to bump into one of the guys from Xplore Asia doing the same trip, then later finding out he was staying at the same hotel.

Once we had gone through the Thai and Lao border, queuing for passport, stamps and hopping onto a old bus to transfer us from one to the other, the mini bus carried on to the hotel, where I checked in and IMG_20150618_122425delved into the complimentary breakfast. After sorting out my visa at the Thai embassy, I had the rest of the day to wander and explore the outskirts of the centre of Vientiane, where I visited Pha That Luang, Patuxai, Talat Sao shopping mall, That Dum Stupa, Vat Sisaket and Presidential Palace.

From all the walking and lack of sleep on the mini van, I literally conked out for a nap as soon IMG_20150618_131730as I was vertically on the bed. Waking up in a daze, I took advantage of the dinner provided by the hotel then with some of the others went into the centre to look around the night market. It was a standard sort of clothes markets and I didn’t particularly want to buy anything.

Opposite from the market, IMG_20150619_165528we sat in a bar looking over the Mekong river, enjoying a cool beer and playing pool. It was kind of a weird atmosphere in here, with young looking girls with not much on trying to chat up some of the guys and just a complete mixture of people (mostly Laos) eating and drinking. It’s strange in Vientiane because most places accept both the Thai Baht and the Lao Kip so trying to sort out paying for drinks and the pool table was confusing. The pool game system was fair, with people wanting to play putting their names on a board then the loser of the game had to pay for the games and let the next person on.IMG_20150619_165746

When the bar was starting to closed, we jumped in a TukTuk to go to a club called ‘@home’ that some of the people we met were going to. I felt that all the drivers were out to get as much of the foreigners money as possible, charging ridiculous prices to go no distance. The club was a dark, dingy place playing pumping Asian music, with most Laos there, but it wasn’t packed at all. Clubbers just stood there with not much dancing. Apparently from speaking to others, most of the clubs in Vientiane are like this. There was one larger Lao tomboy with a motorbike there, who was a peculiar character, kept taking one of the guys money to buy them a drink but then would give him back the change. She got funny about him talking to other. It was just one weird night and hearing some of the stories from others, I was sure not to go out to a club here again.IMG_20150619_160730

The next day, I had a relaxing morning, where I had some breakfast and relaxed by the hostel pool, before jumping in the van to collect our visas. I thought that we were going back to the Thai Embassy but this wan’t clear because I ended up back at the Lao border, which was slightly annoying as I was staying a few more days. Luckily the boarder isn’t too far from the centre so after receiving my passport and visa, I found a bus taking me back.IMG_20150619_173312

For the rest of the afternoon, I checked into my hostel, ate a delicious lunch of Humus, bread and salad, which I haven’t had in months then walked along the Mekong River admiring the views, seeing the sand sculptures and Chao Anouvong statue before walking the park and through the market.IMG_20150619_173724

In the evening, I started chatting to some guys from the hostel, where we drank some Lao Lao (rice wine), then went to a bar with live music. It was their last gig so the people were dancing and pumping. The guys from the hostel, knew one of the bartender, Peter, who had interesting beliefs and morals but he gave us free beers and a ride home.IMG_20150621_103704

Once I had breakfast at the hostel, I sorted out my bus journey back to Bangkok and then rented out a cute, pink motorbike. During the day, I drove along the Mekong River to Buddha park, which is an area with loads of statues. They were extremely close together but it was interesting to see. There was a huge reclining Buddha. There was a strange guy with a pipe instrument, saying ‘I love you to the moon’. I found out he was a Buddha from India. After, I drove back to have lunch at a small baguette place recommended by a friend. As Lao was own by the french, there was a lot of cheap, french food so I ate a cheese, omelette and salad baguette. It was delicious.IMG_20150620_115157

The evening was very relaxing, consisting of lying in a park, driving to a small, Lao fun fair (which I thought was going to be a market), dinner (red curry) and chilling in the hostel.IMG_20150620_120835

On my last day in Lao, I returned the bike, walked to the huge fountain, morning market and to the COPE centre, which was a museum that exhibits a graphic display of the horrors that the Laos people endured because of the bombs USA dropped during the Vietnam War. It was informative and definitely worth seeing. Once I had another baguette and wandered around the Mekong River area, I got picked up from my hostel to start my long journey back to Bangkok: Vientiane main bus station through the boarder to Nong Khai, then a bus to Bangkok, where we stopped for food. I was unfortunately sitting next to a guy from Vietnam who didn’t understand personal space. I also panicked slightly in Nong Khai bus terminal as many people didn’t know which bus I needed to take with my ticket.IMG_20150621_122122

After an exhausting journey, I arrived back in Bangkok in time to go to school.

Even though this trip wasn’t planned, I’m glad I got to see Vientiane. For anyone thinking about travelling Lao, you don’t need to stay here anymore than 2 days as there isn’t that much to do and see.

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