|The next couple of days were – quite frankly, pretty lazy! Arriving into Vientiane at about 5am I said goodbye to Emma who was meeting Anja at the bus station to continue their journey up to Vang Viene. The Swedish guy however was staying in Vientiane so – thinking I’d seen the last of him when getting on the bus the night before – I ended up sharing a tuk tuk with him into the city. I realised his quiet time however is obviously in the morning as he evidently isn’t a morning person! So I chatted away merrily which I’m sure was somewhat annoying (oops).
Nothing was open in the city when we arrived – he had booked a hostel so was heading in that direction to see if he could check in early, I decided I go into a fancy hotel I stumbled across to buy an overpriced coffee and shamelessly use their wifi to work out what I was going to do.
After a bit of research I found a hostel that looked to have good reviews and – looking on the map, wasn’t too far away so I booked a room and started making my way there. Unfortunately this was one of those instances where Maps.ME had an incorrect location tagged for the hostel so on arriving where I thought it was, the hostel was nowhere to be seen….cue finding a nice tuk tuk driver who would take me to the right place based on the address from my booking confirmation.
Eventually I turned up at the hostel and – given it was approx. 8am by this point they obviously didn’t have a room for me then. They did however give me a free breakfast even though I hadn’t stayed the night before and let me use the shower to freshen up, which was much needed!
Feeling nicely fed, watered and clean I decided to head out into the city to see what I could see while I waited for my bed to be prepared (really, all I actually wanted to do was have a nap after the night bus!). I pottered down to Chou Anouvong park, just near the mekong waterfront and sat down for a while. Again there was evidence of the lack of knowledge around environment and keeping places tidy as there was a fair amount of rubbish littered around the place. I found a nice spot though and sat to relax for a while. Keeping myself to myself I soon noticed a lady on a bike approaching me – it transpires there are a few of them around the park who wander around asking if people would like manicures / pedicures / massages. Initially declining, I then looked at my nails and thought ‘my not’ – I’ve never had a manicure in the park before and I thought it would be quite fun!
Nails done I was beginning to get a little hungry and so took a long walk across the city to a little family run restaurant I had read about. Walking passed the ‘smoke free temple’; ‘smoke free park’ and ‘smoke free school’ (Laos is definitely trying to implement a non smoking policy!) and seeing the (slightly underwhelming) presidential palace, I arrived and I was absolutely famished! I enjoyed a really good and simple chicken and fried noodles with a pineapple lassi before heading back up to the hostel to get myself checked in.
The afternoon was a bit of a write off as I lay down as soon as I was given my bed and woke up 3 hours later – definitely feeling the effects of the overnight bus the night before and the early night! While I think I could have slept for longer I forced myself up to ensure I managed to still sleep that night. I grabbed my laptop and phone and headed downstairs to the communal area to try and FaceTime some of the family. Unfortunately no one was available so I attempted to settle into the journal (I always find it hard to write when I’m tired though, I procrastinate a lot!) and so when the hostel owner recommended I headed down to the waterfront to watch the sunset I thought it seemed like a much better idea!
I wandered down the sandy path to the waterfront to find a few other people there – unfortunately a family had their car there and were blaring out dance music for everyone to hear. I had my headphones with me though so promptly put them and enjoyed watching the sun go down with dogs playing in the water, children running round and – randomly – an paraglider whizzing passed.
I took a potter through the night market on my way back – picking up a couple of things I needed and grabbed a light bite to eat and a chat with mum before heading back to the hostel. Falling asleep instantly I think the night before still wasn’t completely shaken off me!
I woke on the Monday after the most incredible night sleep I felt a million times better! Packing ‘Peddy’ (who really is a dream to pack nowadays) I enjoyed a quick breakfast at the hostel before walking through the city to the hospital where they have a permanent exhibition about the work an organisation called ‘Cope’ do for people in need of prosthetic limbs – the majority of whom, in Laos are due to injuries caused by unexploded ‘bombies’ or landmines. It was fascinating to see the work they do and also heart-breaking to see the impact the war is still having on the lives of the local people on a day to day basis now. Bombies could be found by children who think they’re a ball and throw them to one another until it explodes, it could be under farmland and explodes as a farming is preparing land for crops or it could be near a home where a family is cooking a meal over an open fire and the heat cause the unexploded bomb to explode. All unavoidable and with devastating impacts.
After that somewhat sobering morning I headed back to the same place for lunch again as I was close by and the food had been so good the day before. Devouring a green curry I wandered back to the hostel via a shop to pick up some snacks for the night bus and a quick pineapple juice before settling down for a bit of journal writing.
At 6.30pm (ish – I think it was actually a little later in the end) I was picked up by an over cramped tuk tuk to take me to the bus station for my overnight bus to Luang Prabang. Given my experience and lack of sleep the last time I took one of these buses I have to say I wasn’t looking forward to it a huge amount! After a decent amount of waiting around we were finally able to board the bus – this time I wasn’t quite so ‘lucky’ and ended up sharing a bunk with a girl from Holland which made the area all the more cosy and less easy to sleep – especially with, yet another, crazy bus driver!