I awoke early and was excited to explore Vientiane. Sam was still asleep, so I quietly grabbed the camera and slipped out the door. It was 6.30, the temperature was cool and the streets quiet.
When we arrived the day before I had found the city quite pretty, and as I walked the streets in the morning I realised how beautiful it was. There were no big ugly skyscapers, the highest buildings were maybe 6 stories, and there weren't many of them. Most of the multi story buildings seemed quite old, and quite European in stylye - perhaps a remant of the years of French colonisation. There were bakeries and cafes everywhere, and I was almost able to imagine I was walking through a French village.
The brief time I spent looking around I loved it – my favourite city so far. But then again, we were there for less than 24 hours, so maybe we look more fondly on places we wish we could spend more time in.
We checked out of our hotel and decided to give the bikes a quick tune-up and shed some more weight before heading out into the hills of Laos.
In the early afternoon we rode out of Vientiane, sorry that we didn’t have enough time in Laos to stay for another day. Just outside the city we stopped at a roadside stall where we ate a delicious French style bread stick with salad and meat. We sat out of the sun and while we ate the owner tried to fix my sunglasses, which had snapped, with super glue. It was an immediate reaction to the situation that was to become typical of our experiences with the Laos people.
It quickly became apparent that riding in Laos wasn’t like riding in other countries. Everyone we passed smiled at us and wanted to wave and yell “Sabaidee!” (Hello). We passed many people having parties together that invited us in to dance with them. And as we got further from Vientiane the scenery became increasingly beautiful. I spent the whole afternoon smiling.
Late in the afternoon we sailed down a big hill into a small town with two guesthouses. One was right at the busy intersection in the centre of the town and looked very noisy, so we made our way back to the one at the start of town. It was dark when we got there. The room was cheap, 50000 Kip (less than $7) but was pretty dirty and only had a small fan. We realized we’ve been spoiled for great, cheap accommodation in Malaysia and Thailand. In Laos it was back to basics, Indonesian style.
We walked about 1km back towards town in the dark to the nearest food stall, and ate some noodle soup with an unidentifiable meat component. We didn’t think about what kind of meat it might be, as we needed the energy.
Back in our small room the power went out and it was like a sweat box. A truck driver pulled in for a break and it sounded like he was rebuilding the truck with all the banging and hammering going on. Somehow Sam managed to fall asleep despite the noise and heat, and eventually, when the power came back on, I drifted off to sleep too…
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia