Backpacking Laos: Day 001 (06-Feb-2020) 


My MA French third semester exams ended on the 5th of February and I did not want to waste anytime. That same night, I flew to Vientiane, Laos. My flights to Bangkok and then to Vientiane were uneventful. Having traveled this route two times before, within a year, I felt extremely comfortable. I even knew where to find free wifi in Bangkok airport.

At Vientiane airport, I got some dollars exchanged for a lot of Laotian KIP. I felt rich for a while until I decided to spend it. I bought a Lao telecom sim card with ‘data only’ package, valid for 30 days. This pack cost me 60,000 KIP. 

Next, I bought a bus ticket to town centre. It cost me 15,000 KIP. The city seemed less crowded than any other capital cities I have been to in South East Asia. It had a calm and relaxed vibe. People did not seem to be in a rush to get somewhere. I almost immediately felt comfortable with the city. 

The Dream Home hostel that I had booked isn’t the best in town. But, it is located at a convenient spot. Their bathrooms and toilets are filled with graffiti - some funny, but most of them disgusting. After freshening up, I decided to step out for some lunch. I stopped at a restaurant for my first Banh-mi and Tra-da in Laos. I had got addicted to these in Vietnam last year. 

After that modest lunch, I walked to Wat Mixai and Wat Ong Teu temples nearby. The architecture is magnificent and the Golden Buddha idol emanated tranquility. 

From there, I marched towards the Mekong river. There is a beautiful promenade built by the river. Locals gather here during the evenings. It is common to see a group of women exercise to loud music, in SE Asia. I stopped to give and take a free hug to a Chinese student who was silently protesting against the discrimination towards the Chinese due to the recent outbreak of Covid-19 disease. I was warned by few of my concerned friends about this outbreak. This was an early stage and it did not seem like an issue back then. I continued with my plan and I am so glad I did.

The Vientiane night market is by the river and next to the promenade. But it wasn’t active when I reached there. So, I headed to the Chao Anouvong park, next to the promenade. The statue of kin Anouvong is a main attraction here. 

Take the road behind the statue to reach the Presidential Palace - Palais prĂ©sidentiel. 

It had been a long and tiring day; but also exciting. I chose to treat myself with a nice Laotian vegetarian dinner at a nice cafĂ© whose name I unfortunately forgot. 

After that, I returned back to my hostel. At the hostel, the caretaker had changed. The one doing the night shift was an Indian. We had a good conversation and he informed me that I could take a bus to Buddha park and the bus would arrive at the station at around 8AM. I spoke to him about his life here, thanked him for his advice and retired for the day.