Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Sights and Sounds of Vientiane

Hiring a wee motorbike or scooter is a must-do in any SE Asia country I reckon. Having no fear of course is also a bonus. But getting in there and revving it up with the locals is a ball!
Walking around Vientiane is recommended by the guide books and that is good fun, but also limiting due to the heat. I mean when the sun ain't burning a hole through you, the humidity is doing its best to make sure you melt into a puddle on the sidewalk.
Renting a bike gives you the illusion of a not-so-hot day and is cheaper than taking a tuk-tuk (I think, and offers the freedom to explore outside of the city.

So mechanical steed acquired we were on our way. To where exactly we had no real idea, just a general direction. Passing the Friendship Bridge (border crossing Thailand/Lao) and some very dusty and potholy kilometres later we bumped into Buddha Park. A most interesting if slightly surreal collection of concrete statues depicting various Hindu/Buddhist deities. It being a lovely day we decided to chill with all the Buddhas under the vast canopy of a lovely old tree.

Relaxed and with the sun heading towards the horizon we sped our way back into town and discovered that Vientiane has a mini Champs Elysee. With the Victory Monument (L'Arc de Triomphe) at one end and the Presidential Palace at the other. Well of course this discovery meant we had to do a lap (a la Audrey and Gregory in "Roman Holiday" minus the "Rome" part) and all was going swimmingly until we stopped to take the obligatory photo and got a puncture. Well the romance is most quickly extinguished when you have to push your uncooperative transport to the nearest fixer-upper. Thankfully with the kind help of some school girls (giggling at our misfortune) and the friendly smiles of locals we found a place that could do the job no worries. They supplied us with cold drinks, fixed our steed and sent us on our way. The girls waving and smiling at us as we passed them by, we headed back to the "strip" to complete our "Roman Holiday" re-inaction.

Continuing the theme of Italy in Lao with a Kiwi flavour, we discovered a Scandanavian Bakery that made excellent pizza. Dinner. Pizza and beer.

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