Jan 28 Vientiane

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 28th, 2010

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It is early Friday Morning in Vangvieng, about 150 k.m. North of Vientiane. I hope to have some good pictures in the next posting of the canoeing, hiking trip scheduled for today. Vangvieng is at about 1000 feet above sea level in a valley not far from where the CIA operated a secret air base during the Vietnam conflict and training the Mongh tribesmen to fight the Pathet Lao. Not sure where I left off since I have to pretype this without an internet connection. We arrived around 9 p.m., Wednesday night, at our hotel in Vientiane, the Laotion capital. It was a nicer hotel, owned by a US Taiwanese, $36 per room. We are paying here $ 7.50…., no a/c, which you hardly need here in the cooler mountain air, no t.v. which neither of us ever uses. Many of the back packers frown at rates above $10 anywhere but the major cities in Indochina. Dormitories for $ 1 to $2 a night. Vientiane is a much calmer city. And we are told that Luang Prabang, next stop will be even more laid back. So in order of the busy and fast past of Saigon, it would be Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Vientiane and L.B.

There are several very interesting Buddhist temples in Vientiane but the one most remarkable is Pha That Luang a giant Gold Leave painted stupa. Stupas are where usually relics are kept of Buddha. This one is supposed to have part of his breast bone. It is also considered to be the national shrine for Laotion Buddhism and Lao sovereignty. In 1641 Gerrit van Wuysthof of the Dutch East India Company visited Vientiane and reported the “enormous pyramid, the top of which was covered with gold leaf weighing about a thousand pounds”.

We took the bus from Vientiane and arrived after dark in Vangvieng. It turns out that we may have some difficulties taking the planned bus connection from Vientiane to Vinh, Vietnam because they are overbooked with the large Vietnamese population living here returning to their ancestors homes for Tet.



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