I did a three night stop in Vientiane, a 4 hour drive south from Vang Vieng. I checked into my first real hotel, which I desperately needed to do after Vang Vieng. I stayed at Vientiane Garden Hotel. I chose it because it has a pool and I wanted to spend the majority of the three days relaxing by a pool and sleeping in my king sized bed in my own room. I lucked out that the hotel is 2 blocks away from the Chinese food street, right next to the 2 popular backpacker hostels, and I had 3 HBO English channels. The guests at the hotel were mostly couples my age and a few older Asian people, which was almost perfect. No new friends to make, a few old friends across the street, and pure relaxation.
I watched a bunch of movies, swam and relaxed by the pool and ate a lot of pho. My first night I did take-out from two different Chinese restaurants. I got steamed pork dumplings from a Hong Kong restaurant, and steamed Chinese broccoli with garlic from a Guandong restaurant. Tasted just like home.
My second day I went to C.O.P.E. while. It’s a hospital/rehabilitation center for Lao people who lose limbs mostly due to unexploded ordnance, but also from everyday accidents, like motorbikes accidents. The organization makes all their own prosthetics. The exhibit itself is not that impressive but what they are doing for the locals is. They’ll accept anyone who comes willingly.
On the way to C.O.P.E., which is outside of the tourist downtown section, I ran into the local fruit/vegetable market. I stopped at a stall and had pho. On the way back I bought a bunch of fruit at the market (a papaya, dragon fruit, and Japanese pears) along with banana chips and a grilled corn. Later that night I had the best noodle soup of the trip. A mix between Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese- broth with ramen, sliced pork, minced pork, pork/veg dumplings, and toppings (lettuce, mint, chilies, lime.) I’m still dreaming about it.
I had signed up for a yoga class but ended up not making it. Both trip advisor and the teacher said it was in town but it turns out it’s not. It’s about 3 miles from where I’m staying, and the downtown is less than a mile wide. Was very disappointed when I learned that. Will need to find one asap in Cambodia.
My last night I went to the night market along the Mekong with my NZ friend from Vang Vieng. The market was huge and along the modern park but it was all clothes, and modern clothes at that. We walked through but ended up grabbing soup on the street nearby. We then went to a Western Heineken bar called Max’s Grill. It’s the first time I had cider since getting here and it tasted amazing and refreshing. At $4 a pop it’s definitely a treat, but when in Rome. The bar was filled with all locals though and there was a local band that sounded great but looked 15 years old. The bar reminded me of Brutopia in Montreal. Liked that.