Vientiane and 4000 islands

18 Jul

I get a night bus from luang prabang to the capital, Vientiane. It’s a hell of a ride and I can’t really sleep, not because the sits but because of the constant bumps and curves. Later I hear that rock slides in both sides of the road are constant, and that is scary enough taking the bus during the day.

The capital is not so pretty as luang prabang. It’s more quiet and not as touristy. I visit the four must do’s in two hours. Neither the national monument nor the oldest wat amazes me much. I find the french-laosian arc du triumph with pagodas on the top somewhat perturbing. Rudolf and me have one of these very tasty soups that you don’t really want to know what has in it. Soup is almost the national dish in Laos. In the local places in vientiane they just have a big cooking pot (as the one in which obelix fell) and mix everything there. For one euro you can have your soup, where you can put mint, thai basil, chillies, peanut sauce and other herbs in it. A glass of ice tea included. I love it.

In the afternoon I head for an hour of feet and shoulders massage. The place is great: dim lights, confortable sofas, cups of tea before and after. The massage the best one so far. I spend the rest of the day in french coffee shops using wifi and having fruit shakes. I could stay here for some days.

I expect the worst for the next night bus to the very south of the country. I am very surprised the bus has real beds and that the road is smooth. I watch a movie in my ipad and fall asleep.

In the south of laos the mekong broadens up to about ten km, giving place to 4000 islands. I stay in one of the many bungalows in don det, an island about four km long. Only narrow paths connect the different parts of the island. Water buffalos and chickens are all around the rice fields. The first day I ride a bike around and cross to don khon island, also about four km long. I bike to the tat somphamit waterfalls. They are not tall but massive. I go to the southern tip of the island and see the cambodian border in the other side. I come back to the bungalow before sunset. I am exhausted.

There is only one bar with wifi where all the (not so many) backpackers meet at night. I find Alex sitting in one the tables, the guy I met in the very north of Laos. We share our travels in Laos and meet for the next day to try to see the Irrawaddy dolphins. They are sea dolphins that live in some fresh water places. Nowadays they are very rare in the mekong.

I take it easy in the morning. I wake up late, have some big breakfast, lay in my hammock by the mekong reading and writing… In the afternoon we ride our bikes again and have no luck with the dolphins. At night I try the chicken laap, a national dish. It’s basically a salad with minced meet or fish, lime, chilly, and other herbs and species. Not bad. At night more wifi and gintonic is a good combination.

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