This is the second part of the small "guide" through Laos.
We knew that the culture is very different and we heard quite a lot of stories about Laos before the trip. We even saw some pictures of the country but still we found it hard to imagine what it would feel like to be there. Is the air so hot that you can't breathe? Do elephants walk up and down on the streets? Are there any huge spiders and insects climbing on the wall? Is it really true that Lao people eat almost anything that moves? What does an insect taste like? And we had a lot more similar questions in our head.
Well we got some answers but we still left a lot of things undiscovered. Maybe next time :P
As soon as we arrived we got an answer to our first question. Yes it's as hot as everybody describes it. It was 30-32 degrees. But it can get way hotter and more humid in the rainy season. So we actually chose the best time to travel.
Vientiane is the biggest and the most populated city in Laos. We were suprised because there were actually a lot of turists everywhere. Ofcourse not as much as in Thailand but Laos gets more and more popularity. Mostly the travelers who visit Laos are looking for a quiet place where the "western civilization" hasn't destroyed the beauty of simple life. Well Vientiane has two different faces. It's developing really fast, there's a lot of cars on the roads and you can find huge hotels and fancy restaurants next to the main road. On the other hand you see tons of electric cabels above your head, the traffic is really chaotic sometimes and the air is filled with red dust and some of the houses are in a really bad shape but people seem happy all the time.
Vientiane has its charm that is hard to put in words. Maybe it's the people who are always smiling at you and it seems they're always in a good mood and nothing bothers them or the old Buddhist temples filled with a strong smell of incense sticks and the monks orange robes that you can't take your eyes of or the long red sunsets at the Mekong river or the little cute geckos on the walls of houses that makes this whole city so alive.
Tips on what to do and visit:
- whatch the sunset next to the Mekong river. The Asian sunset is nothing like in Europe. Words cannot describe the view and the athmosphere.
- Take a ride with a tuktuk. it's the Asian taxi. :)
- Visit the Buddha park. It is not that old but you will find here beautiful buddhist and hindu sculptures everywhere.
- Go to at least one local market. These places are really chaotic. You'll see a lot of weird stuff, like insects, frogs, snakes, lizards, rats sometimes cats and beautiful birds for sale. Of course they sell them as food and not as pets :P You'll be amazed by the amounts of vegetables and fruits also. The smell usually is horrible because of the meat and the heat and there are flies everywhere but if you won't visit at least one market in Laos you haven't seen the country :P
- Morning Market - Talat Sao. It's a huge market on several floors. I think it's the best place in Vientiane to buy souvenirs for your friends and relatives.
|Pha That Luang|
- Visit the Buddhist temples (like Pha That Luang) You can't miss this beautiful temples. They are not as renovated as in Bangkok but maybe because of this they look more real.
- For breakfast the locals eat a huge portion of noodle or rice soup which is quite heavy for the stomach. So usually we ordered fried eggs with some bread :P If you want "normal" breakfast you have to find a western restaurant.
- Try some local food. Most of them are really delicious. I really like the ones that you have to cook for yourself. On each table there is a little hole for the fire place and you have to fry your meat on it :) And the fruits are really delicious! And I can tell the same thing about the fruit shakes.
- Boat restaurants are awsome! It's quite close to Vientiane but unfortunatly I don't remember the name of the river where it was. :( Around 10-20 people fit in one boat and while you're eating you can enjoy the beautiful view from the river. And most of them have a karaoke machine on it and locals like to use it quite a lot :)
Next time I'll write about Xieng Khuang.