Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 48 - Cycling Tour Around Vientiene

We would tour the capital city of Laos on our own time by renting bikes and following our Lonely Planet guides. The guide offered a 7km bicycle tour around the city's landmarks and we would get a chance to share the roads with the Laotians.

The traffic in the capital was not bad at all. Not at anytime in the day was there any serious traffic and it was relatively easy to make our way through the streets without feeling in danger. We searched the streets for some authentic Laotian food and found a small food stall that offered sticky rice and a melon dish to accompany the rice. I think it was authentic...

After brunch, we headed to the Presidential Palace, originally built for the French colonial governor before it was taken over by the Laotians. It was gated, so we went on to the next stop, which was the French Embassy and a Catholic Church...I swear, some of these stops recommended by the guidebook seem like filler recommendations...

The weather was unbearably hot (again in SE Asia), so we took a break and visited the Talat Khua Din - which was an open air market, hoping to cool off in the shade, but it was even hotter walking through the shaded stalls! Heading back out, we set out to see Patuxai, which is a gate/landmark/arc, also known as the Asian "Arc de Triomphe." It is dedicated to those who fought the battle to gain independence from France, and provides great aerial views of the entire city.

Continuing on the tour, we stopped by the U.S. embassy and That Dam, which is a giant stupa in the middle of a turnabout. Since we were already at the U.S. embassy, I decided to get additional visa pages here, hoping that it wouldn't take forever to get processed. Since no one was there, I got it done in 20 minutes! Since I was an American, we were led to an A/C'd room with comfortable seats to get all the processing done. In the room were pictures of Obama, Biden, and Clinton. Outside of the A/C'd room were the lines for foreigners, with fans and benches for them to sit on. We couldn't have provided the same amenities to non-Americans?

Afterwards, we headed to the Lao National Museum to learn a little more about the history of the country, much of which I don't really remember unfortunately...and I couldn't take pictures to remind myself... Before Dinner, we went to one of the temples, Wat In Paeng, which had really intricate and color pictures and doors to the temple.  At the end of the day, we went to a famous Herbal Sauna. It was the hottest sauna I had ever been in, and it was tough just trying to breathe inside, but my skin felt a lot cleaner after I sweated all the toxins and dirt off.

Taking in the nightlife, we met with our new CS friend, who took us to a couple of the popping clubs in Laos. We met some of his French friends who were in Laos for internships and schooling. The Laotians party hard with their BeerLao and Johnny Walker Black Label Whiskey until 4am in the morning...


Brunch - Some sort of Melon dish

Presidential Palace

What Lonely Planet calls the "towering Catholic Church"

City Views on the Top of the Patuxai

That Dam

Wat In Paeng

Inside Wat In Paeng

The Laotian Beer of Choice

Marina Club

After Hours Hotel Club

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