SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 2006. VIENTIANE, LAOS. Eight years ago, Vientiane was a dusty and very sleepy capital city of Laos. The few falang (foreigners) back then were mostly French. Today, Vientiane is awakening, albeit just a bit. Most of the roads are paved, and there are new street signs. On the bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane, the travellers were from Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Israel, and Japan. As far as I could tell, I was the lone American. Clearly the Europeans have discovered what a wonderful country Laos is. Too bad more Americans haven't.
The French influence in Vientiane and Laos is quite strong, particularly the signs and the food. In addition to Lao, many signs are in French and English. Besides traditional French cuisine restaurants, there are a lot of bakeries making fresh baguettes and other baked goods. The quality is almost on par with France.
Tomorrow I have a full day to explore Vientiane further, before catching an overnight bus to Bangkok (Although I wanted to catch the overnight train, it was fully booked).
SUNDAY, AUGUST 27, 2006. VIENTIANE, LAOS. I spent the morning visiting some Wats near the Mekong River and having lunch along the river. In the afternoon, I toured the Lao National Museum. It was interesting to read the word "imperialism" or "imperialist" every time after the word "American". Not the most inviting museum for Americans, but then again there are few Americans in Laos. From the museum, I headed back to the Mekong River to enjoy a mixed fruit shake prior to catching my bus to Bangkok. Laos has some of the best fruit shakes in the world.
Kraup jai lai lai to the wonderful and warm people of Laos for making my stay a most enjoyable one. Laos is truly one of the quietest and peaceful countries in the world.