Jan 26, 2010

Day 25, Jan 26, vientane

Last time I spent more than a few hours in vientane (as on the previous trip) was in 1995. I just came from Hanoi, totally exhausted from having spent 2 month in Vietnam on 2 wheels. First by motorcycle, then from Saigon to Hanoi by bicycle. Exhausted not only from bicycling but from the though friendly but also fairly aggressive environment.
And the best place to come to to wind down, relax, recharge was vientane. Travelling was very restricted, one had to stay for the granted 5 days in vientane prefecture. Absolutely quiet, hardly any traffic, very few cars and not too many people. I have this memory of unpaved streets but more likely there were thickly covered with red dust. A pitcher of beer (on the rocks!) was something like 25 cents; accommodation around $2. Well, my travel budget averaged $5/day...
I also remember the unbelievable friendliness of the us embassy ('you need a business visa? No problem, will be ready tomorrow!' I had maybe $100 in total to my name! Times have changed...).
The city had changed, too! it's indeed hustling and bustling comparable with a midsize city in Thailand, but with higher prices for hotels.
All in all not very impressive in comparison to the rest of Laos and no real reason to stay more than a day or two.

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