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Oh where, oh where is the Lao Red Cross...

View Lana's Peripatetic Voyage on Lana007's travel map.

I felt as though I had been softly transported out of the Bangkok sky into a clean, dreamy, wide-laned, empty city. Re-routing out of the floods in Thailand to Laos was a brilliant idea, however my excitement had to first wade with me through a very sluggish ‘visa upon entry’ lineup at the Vientiane airport. Canadians are charged far more than any other country for a visitor’s visa to Laos, so I suppose this is a direct reflection of what Canada charges other nations for entry to the most beautiful country in the world. We pay a lot to be Canadian, so we had just as soon continue to be proud!
Having nothing better to do but focus on the weight of my bags, I studied the passports held by the other tourists in line. Canada’s passports are pretty flimsy, if I do say so. Some countries produce hard covers, pretty colours, and fancy cover pages. Maybe Mr. Harper will endorse a less conservative passport in the future. Without taking sides, it would be a creative arts and crafts break from all of the whining on the Hill.
Upon paying an inordinate amount of money to my cab driver, I realized I did not care because it was so pleasant in Vientiane with no traffic, no exhaust filling my lungs, and a seat in a vehicle that had suspension and all of its floorboards. The hotel’s name was Phoung Champa, so getting lost was a given. There was no way I was going to remember that name, so I secretly scanned for landmarks along the Mekong River. It is probably best not to highlight whether or not my strategy was successful.
I have no memory of Hallowe’en, but that is likely due to the fact that nothing happens in Vientiane. There is truly nothing to do, but getting lost kept me busy for hours. After finding that a bicycle was the cheapest solution for getting around, I spent the day looking for the Red Cross and never found it. Just because I had detailed instructions does not mean it was easy! After watching the cab drivers, motorcyclists, and gardeners watch me circle the same block over and over, I gave up and let them have their snicker. By the end, I was laughing, too. I did manage to locate the Vietnamese embassy, a bank with a grand piano for the customers’ enjoyment, and a travel agency that could ship me out of Vientiane the next day. The travel agent just happened to recommend the best little local restaurant in town, and that visit became the best memory of my short stay. The owner, Noy, does not even have a sign on her little place, and the food was so good that I asked if I could learn some of her recipes after hours. In her tiny kitchen, and after she told me I bought the wrong mushrooms (listen, those things took 2.5 hours to find in the scorching heat. They were fine), we laughed mostly about men, and created a simple business plan for her to carry out in the next few months. I know she will become very profitable, and I fully expect to see her restaurant in Lonely Planet within 2 years!
Before leaving for Luang Namtha in northern Laos, I spent about three hours in a salon called Mango, right in front of the Mekong boardwalk in Vientiane. As the sun fell behind the river, I was lulled to sleep with slow music accompanying an extensive nail decorating ritual. Following that exhausting effort on my part, the manager asked me if I would like my hair washed, too. Well, I could barely see or walk after the head massage, wash, and blow dry. So, the moral of the story is….when there is nothing to do, eat a good meal with a friend, go to the salon, and laugh a lot. If you are really bored, get lost first.

Posted by Lana007 02:47 Archived in Laos

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Sounds like you are on a 'spas' around the world tour. Keeps notes then write a travel book. Great shots at the waterfalls. Remember that while you are enjoying a nice swim everything around here is frozen. It is warming though and looks to be a green christmas. 6 days to go.

by Kurt

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