Dynargh dhe'n Blogofrob

Sunday 5th September 2004

I travelled into Laos with Gitte, a Danish girl I met on the bus up to Nong Khai. From the guesthouse we could see the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge spanning the river. Hearing the name of the crossing point, I had imagined some kind of rickety rope bridge, appearing out of the Thai jungle, swaying across a deep ravine, and immediately disappearing into the foliage on the other side. Of course it is nothing of the kind - simply a plain concrete road bridge, efficiently crossing the Mekong.

The bridge didn't seem that far off, so we decided to walk, an ill-advised yomp in the increasing heat - and after a mile or more we gave in and hopped on a tuk-tuk. Resisting the tuk-tuk driver's insistence to take us to travel agents on the route, that would give him a commission if we agreed to their unnecessary visa services (as visas are available from Immigration on the bridge for a cheaper dollar price) we were soon over the border and in Vientiane, where we checked into separate guesthouse, Gitte's budget being much more prohibitive than mine. Not that the Mix-OK guesthouse was particularly hard on my wallet. I paid about 3 pounds for a little room, with a double bed (there were no singles left)and a ceiling fan that sounded like a helicopter perpetually landing.

I wandered around Vientiane for a while, first up to Wat Sisaket, a traditional Lao monastery, built in 1818, and, because it survived the Thai sacking of the city about a decade later, the oldest Wat in Vientiane - it is fairly small and I meandered around the Buddha filled cloisters, grounds and central sanctury hall for half an hour before heading back onto the streets. Vientiane has the air of an old colonial outpost, where, probably owing to reading too much Orwell and Greene, I imagine white-suited minor diplomats to sweat out the years, worrying that they have been forgotten by their governments. The place has a pleasant gentle pace, despite the constant rattle of motorbikes, tuk-tuks and trucks. On tree-lined avenues, old French colonial houses crumble away, surrounded by undergrowth and palm trees. They sit comfortably next to the more modern low-rise buildings and tangles of over-head power lines that run along the streets.

I had agreed to meet Gitte for a bottle or two of Beer-Lao and some food in the evening. I spent a few hours chatting and eating with my new friend in a restaurant where the guard at the gate checked Gitte's bag, as apparently some one had thrown a bomb into the place recently. I couldn't drink too much of the highly recommended beer however, as I planned to get up very early the next morning to catch the bus further north.

55 - posted at 09:48:37


How's the beard??

1: (anonymous) - 10:20:55 on Monday 6th September 2004 (permalink)

Will comment in my next blog after 6 September...

2: Rob - 10:32:17 on Monday 6th September 2004 (permalink)

What's happening on 6 September? Are you expecting significant growth?

3: Matt (London) - 10:35:15 on Monday 6th September 2004 (permalink)

No, I've posted for today, the 6 September. Didn't want to raise false hope and hollow excitement by saying I would comment in that blog as I haven't.

4: Rob (Luang Prabang) - 10:44:37 on Monday 6th September 2004 (permalink)

The facial-hair-growth-related suspense is killing me!

5: Claire (on tenterhooks) - 16:39:14 on Monday 6th September 2004 (permalink)

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