Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Travels:Laos. 'Wat' a sunny day!

Day 2

Sunday, December 21, 08

After a surprisingly chilly night (at least it was for me!), Husband J and I woke up to a breezy, sunny morning. The sun was out, and the weather was very pleasant, although I was with my trusted denim jacket when we head out for breakfast.

Breakfast at the hotel was included as part of our room, but the breakfast hall had a funky smell and made me want to throw up, so we decided to spend our Kips on a decent breakfast outside. Just behind the hotel, there were a row of swanky restaurants, and the famous Scandinavian Bakery. The place is almost always packed with tourists. I think I just had a simple breakfast set with toast and eggs, and black coffee, and it was by far, the most ordinary breakfast I've had. I don't understand why the bakery was so popular. I supposed tourists flock to it because it is mentioned in every guide book to Laos. There was nothing Scandinavian about it, the coffee was flat, the bread was nothing spectacular, the eggs, boring and it was a bit pricey. We could've opted for something cheaper, but I guess it was just our second day, so you live and learn!

Walking along the tall white walls of the Presidential Palace, Vientiane

Sightseeing in Indochina is essentially wats, museums and more wats! Our first stop was the Sisaket Museum, which was just around the corner from where we stayed. We walked passed the Presidential Palace, but couldn't see much but white walls surrounding it. We had to pay 5,000 Kip for entrance (each) to look at Buddha figurines if different sizes in glass casings. Just opposite of the museum is the Wat Sisaket, which is said to be the oldest temple in Vientiane. It houses more than 300 mostly Lao-style Buddha images of different sizes, ages and material.

And yes, you have to pay the entrance fee of 5,000 Kip each!

Wat Sisaket

The Hwa Phra Keo Museum was next, where you get to see a little of Lao history. Old money, old weapons, old Lao ornaments..you know the sort National Museums are made of. 5,000 Kip entrance fee each. (As we learnt, almost everything has an entrance fee!)

The sky was very blue in Vientiane, no clouds, so you get direct sunlight. Even during this somewhat cooler season, the sun was quite strong. I didn't sweat much although we did a lot of walking today. It was hot but not humid. But still, hot.

That Dam is a old concrete stupa right in the middle of the road, near the American embassy. It looks quite majestic but a little out of place!! Due to its location, the locals have turned it into a roundabout so, no entrance fee for this one!

The holy roundabout? That Dam

The Patouxai was next. I was a little grumpy (and tired! And hot!) by this time, especially when I learned J wanted us to climb up to the top! The Patouxai (or 'Ptooi' as J called it!) was built from concrete originally donated by the US government for an airport. But as you can see, that never happened instead, up went this building. I didn't think there was anything special at the top. Half way, you can do a bit of shopping, before continuing your way to view Vientiane from the top. At the bottom, the ceiling looked like you could be in a cathedral in Rome, except it is adorned by Buddhist images. Quite stunning. Entrance fee: 3,000 Kip each please!!


We walked back and had lunch by the Mighty Mekong at one of the shacks along the river bank. As expected, food was awesome though we had simple dishes with rice. You can never go wrong with the simple local dishes...

Hot food on a hot day!!

Tomorrow is our last full day in Vientiane before we head out to see the rest of this unique country. But for now, time to get out of the sun and catch some zzzzzzzzz........