Saturday, 27 August 2016

Vientiane | Laos Traveller

      Vientiane, the capital of Laos, and the final stop on my Thailand & Laos adventure. We arrived here late in the evening, after catching a flight from Luang Prabang (the roads were flooded, and we had to skip Vang Vieng). This actually meant we got an extra day here, due to our schedule change, which worked in my favour, as I was only going to have one day here originally, though other members of the group were going to end up staying for four or five days now. My initial perception of Vientiane was that it was going to be another large Asian city, not unlike Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City. And in some ways it was; big, busy, lots of traffic, a little generic at times. But in other ways, I preferred it to some of those other places, as it wasn't quite as big, and it felt like there was a lot of character, especially in all the riverfront restaurants, and some of the sights we visited. It wasn't my favourite stop of the trip, but I did enjoy it more than I was perhaps expecting to. On that first evening, it was pretty late by the time we got to the hotel, but most of us still went out for dinner after we'd checked in. We were staying near the Nam Phou fountain, which is beautiful when lit up with coloured lights at night, and has several bars and restaurants nearby, and the one we went to was pretty cool, with colourful lanterns out the front, and a live band playing inside.

Nam Phou fountain with lights at night, Vientiane, Laos

Monday, 22 August 2016

Luang Prabang | Laos Traveller

     Luang Prabang is probably the best known town in Laos for travellers to visit, especially with the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls nearby, so it made sense that we would spend a few days here. However, our 2 day/3 night stay was extended to an extra night (and two full days), due to a rainstorm causing landslides and flooding on the road to our next destination. This gave us plenty of time to see more of Luang Prabang, but meant that we would have to skip Vang Vieng and fly straight to Vientiane, since the roads could take days to clear. I didn't really need all that extra time in Luang Prabang, but it's a nice enough town for sure. It's a good size for walking and cycling around, and there are lots of nice bars and markets and such to explore, as well as dozens of temples, with many monks walking around town, and the museum to visit. The Mekong river may not be the nicest shade of brown, seeing as it picks up silt for hundreds of kilometres along its length, but it's still nice to sit down by the river, and Luang Prabang sit son a sort of peninsula, where the Nam Khan river meets the Mekong.

Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Mekong River | Laos Traveller

     I wasn't sure what to make of the prospect of two days on a boat down the Mekong river at first, as it could have potentially been a rather boring journey, but in the end, I quite enjoyed it. It was relaxing and laid back, and the boat is far more pleasant than say, a bus or a car. We spent one more night in Thailand on the way though, staying in Chiang Khong, right beside the river, which marks the border. On the way, we stopped at the White Temple; I had seen pictures of this before, but hadn't actually realised it was that that we were going to see. I know I've said before that the temples all start to look the same after a while, but the White Temple completely blew the rest away. It's huge for starters, and surrounded by water and bridges and fountains, and everything is so intricately and beautifully designed. It's the colour that makes it stand out though (can you guess what colour it is?), as it just looks so clean and pristine, and is a bright change form the reds and golds found on most other temples. Randomly though, there were various heads hanging from trees nearby, of famous fictional characters, such as superheroes, aliens and fantasy creatures, which was all very odd to discover around such a stunning religious building. We had a snack at the little food court outside, before hitting the road again.

White Temple in Chiang Rai province, north Thailand

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