Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Luang Prabang to Vientiane

In which a toilet explodes
Starring no one in particular

The overnight bus from Luang Prabang to Vientienne was super, super delux. Your own little bunk bed, dinner served after departure, plastic bags to put your shoes in and an on board toilet. Turns out though, it was not such a good thing after all as there seemed to be some kind of ‘explosion’ in the night and the toilet was rendered unusable. Of course without a sign telling anyone it was out of order there was a continuous stream of people going in and opening the door before rushing back out again retching, wafting the stench up and down the bus.  

Whether or not this set the tone for Vientiane or not I can’t really say but I didn't exactly fall in love with Laos’s rather busy and filthy capital city.  I booked another night bus straight out the same leaving me with just a day to whisk round the few essential sites. 

The main temple complex is called Wat Sisaket and had the interesting addition of a library off to one side which used to contain the temple prayer tracts all written on bamboo. 

From there I walked up the main drag – Lang Xang Avenue – which is supposed to be Laos’s equivalent of the Champs-Élysées with its very own Arc de Triomph overlooking iti.  The architecture of the arch is a heady mix of moulding colonial finery and Buddhist Laos embellishments with a rather nice view of the city from the top. 

Laos’s most important Stupa – That Louang – is another sweaty two kilometres to the north.

The city was starting to gear up for a big festival on the 13th of October so the river banks were being lined with stalls selling food and clothes.  Reminded me a bit of Durban’s waterfront.

More pictures here:

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