Sunday, January 9, 2011


After a bit of a break in the blog to finish up some school applications and a trip back to the US for Christmas, I'm back on the blog to try to finish up some posts about my trip to Southeast Asia (which finished about five months ago, not that I'm behind or a slow writer or anything).

Next up was Vientiane, the capitol of Laos. Vientiane was the only city we visited in Laos that was a more typical modern and relatively developed city. As such, there wasn't as much to do there and it was more of a midway point for us between northern and southern Laos.  There are a few interesting sites in the city, though, and it's a good place to recharge between treks.

The city is relatively walkable and you can see most of the sites in a day. One of the main things to see is Patuxai, which is somewhat of an unfinished knockoff of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It's pretty cool to check out and has one of the best views of the city from the top.

Wes at Patuxai 

Patuxai with Reflecting Pool 

View of Presidential Palace from Patuxai 

View of Vientiane from Patuxai

View of Vientiane from Patuxai

The main site in Vientiane is Pha That Luang, a Buddhist temple that is the Laos national symbol. It's basically a big, gold-colored temple, and is definitely impressive to see.

 Pha That Luang Courtyard

 Entrance to Pha That Luang

 Pha That Luang

Pha That Luang

On our route from the north part of Laos to the south, we kept running into the same people over and over again who were on the same route. We might do a trek or two with a group, go our separate ways, and then randomly see those people again in another city. Since most of the cities in Laos are one street towns it normally wasn't too surprising, but since Vientiane is a pretty big city, it was a surprise when we ran into several people we had met in places like Nong Khiaw and Vang Viang.

Bowling is a popular thing to do in Vientiane for some reason, so we decided to hit the lanes that night with some of the people we had met earlier in our trip. Even though the lanes and computers at the bowling alley seemed like they were several decades old, it was a lot of fun to mix things up and do something completely different than most of the other activities we were doing in Laos.

Bowling Laos-Style 

Make Benefit Glorious Laos Happy Bowling

Later that night as we were walking around the city, we happened upon a big public square where they were playing a World Cup game. During our whole trip it was surprising to see how interested Laotians were in the World Cup, even though they didn't have a team playing. They seemed to follow it pretty passionately and when the games were on, nearly every shop, restaurant, house, etc. would have the game playing. It was pretty cool to watch the game with the locals in the public square and eat some local food while doing so.

Watching World Cup

The next day, we checked out a morning market and walked around the city a bit before heading off to the next city on our trip. We had considered doing a cooking class to learn how to cook some of the basic Laos dishes, but it didn't work out. Cooking classes eluded us the entire trip somehow and we never did get to do one.

Interesting Dirty and Cramped Market 

Black Stupa

Local Transportation

While the stay in Vientiane was short, it was still pretty interesting and it's always good to see the capitol city of a country. Stay tuned as I finish up my posts about Laos and then on to Cambodia.