|It has taken us a few days to get situated, but we're starting to feel comfortable here in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. So comfortable that we are getting stingy. Spend more than $3 for dinner for two? That's stretching it. Pay $5 for a full-body massage? WAY too expensive!
On day one we found a place to stay - for a great price with hot water, air conditioning, and cable tv! Woohoo! Spoiled already...
Then we had a Lao lunch by the Mekong River - we could see Thailand across the river.
Unfortunately, we were a little overzealous with our air conditioning and woke up with sore throats and colds yesterday...and for once, Aubrey seems to have the weaker form of the virus than Karolyn.
We started the morning with the Vientiane Times and some Lao coffee: 53% sugar, 36% cream & 11% instant coffee. It even says so on the package. Aubrey doesn't know what to do without his BITTER coffee. We should have brought along a French press: fresh coffee costs more than beer.
Despite our colds, we decided to go for a bike ride to find the tourist office to book our elephant trek. It should have taken 20 minutes to get there.
2 hours later...after biking in circles in 104-degree heat (according to Aubrey's watch, which is rarely accurate), Aubrey mentioned he had seen a "Lao National Tourist Office" a while back, but that he had thought it was the wrong one. Karolyn barely held back the tears and punches. How many National Tourist Offices are there in a capital city of 234,000 people!?!
But our seemingly unending wandering paid off. We found a great local lunch spot - no menus or English-speakers, but some delicious noodle soup!
(When we finally found the tourist office it was closed.)
We spent the afternoon visiting some Wats (Buddhist temples) and Stupas (other temples). Our favorite one had a steam sauna & Lao massage in a treehouse. We also met Phong, a monk, who told us a bit about Buddhism and monkhood. They wake up every day at 4 am to pray and then collect alms. They eat their two meals together - but they don't eat dinner! And they are not allowed to touch women, so Kar couldn't shake his hand to say goodbye.
Until now we've been able to avoid the rain- but it's pouring outside as we write this. (Hence the long entry...) Stay tuned to see if we make it to the tourist office tomorrow!