Vientiane Journals

Vientiane and The Cross of Bethlehem

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A travel journal to Vientiane by SeenThat

Sunset Photo, Vientiane, Laos More Photos
Quote: Sometimes, journeys generate more than a travelogue…

Vientiane

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That Dam Photo, Vientiane, Laos
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After leaving my country, I accumulated roughly two years in Southeast Asia with long breaks between the visits. There were good reasons for the visits; the many IgoUgo journals they generated are a good testimony of that. Of the forty countries and special areas I have visited, Southeast Asia was by far the friendliest and one of the most beautiful, both in culture and nature. While there, I traveled a lot – especially in Thailand, but also developed a ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 19, 2011

Vientiane and the Cross of Bethlehem

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Buddha Park Photo, Vientiane, Laos
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Under these circumstances, I accumulated several months in this tiny town despite its dusty heat, high humidity and relative lack of air conditioners. Its many advantages more than compensated for the weather. Even these climatic hardships weren’t totally negative. The dust and high humidity create spectacular sunsets over the Mekong River, the sun slowly disappearing among the Thai foliage of the other shore, leaving as a short lived reminder a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges and yellows searching for a comfortable bed among puffy clouds. Some of my visits were just overnight stops,...Read More

First Coffee in Vientiane

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Croissant Sandwich Photo, Vientiane, Laos
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The monuments, embassies and ministries, revealed that Vientiane was the capital of a country; yet, it looked like a small town, with a center built in French colonial style. The wide streets and spacious, empty sidewalks with lots of tall green trees were a rarity in Southeast Asia. Close to the Mekong riverside, with its romantic sunsets, were excellent French and Italian restaurants.The amazing local coffee and the baguettes were an additional bonus, a very welcome French legacy, especially after the forced semi-abstinence from those products in Thailand. Much before my visit, at the end of the 19th century, French settlers planted coffee in the volcanic ground of the Bolaven Plateau in...Read More

The Back Door to the Middle Kingdom

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Boten Photo, Laos, Asia
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My book selling was not strictly for business. I used it for pleasure and studies as well. I always tried to carry good books. In some of the hotels, the staff already knew my preferences and gave me free books that other people had left behind. I knew owners from bulk second-hand shops who got their books from the hotels in a similar way. Buying books from the second-hand stores made it possible for me to sell the books one by one and to make a reasonable profit. In one of them I found an old guide of Nepal, and through it I was exposed to the idea of trekking along the Himalayas. It looked like the perfect escape. Walking day after day in the open, with no buses, no technology, no electricity, promi...Read More

Feeling Good

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Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
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During this visit I slept in the cheapest hotel in Vientiane, called Sabaidy, two words meaning "feeling good" in the Lao and Thai languages. It was a good location at the center of town, very close to the Namphou Fountain and one block away from the beautiful promenade along the Mekong River. The guesthouse’s original building was a two-story colonial structure, which the owner re-modeled into three floors, without adding even one centimeter to its height. The first floor contained the large lobby with the reception counter, a small eating area with an advanced entertainment system, which signaled the family’s wealth, and a kitchen at the rear of the building. The reception counter had a computer wit...Read More

South of the Clouds

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Vang Vieng Photo, Vang Vieng, Laos
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The plan was to cross from Boten in Laos to Mohan, in the Xishuangbanna County of the Chinese province of Yunnan. The province’s name, meaning "South of the Clouds," sounded more like "Away from the Problems" to me.Here, the Communist regime was fighting a semi-secret civil war with the Hmong people. The government was paranoid about any foreign government intervention, a situation that suited me fine. The Hmong people were an ethnic group living across sections of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and China. During the Vietnam War they helped the Americans, who quickly forgot their promises after their defeat. Since then, these poorly equipped warriors were fighting a hidden war against the communi...Read More

Last Coffee in Vientiane

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Sunset Photo, Vientiane, Laos
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In the morning all was forgotten and we went for a coffee at the Morning Market. Outside the huge structure, along its western side, there were three big eating areas catering to the public. The southern one was across the road from the main bus terminal. First we stopped at my preferred stall, the only one serving coffee at the central food plaza and then at the southern one, which had several coffee stalls. The recognition and greetings of the sellers needed no translation. "I think that you are addicted to the coffee here – everybody knows you," Adi said. "You see, I’m just a popular, veteran coffee drinker in Laos." While we were d...Read More