Saturday 17 November 2012
18.11.2012 30 °C
It is a beautiful morning and breakfast is served on the terrace overlooking the river. We both would have loved to stay a bit longer looking at the wonderful view but the mini van arrived on time at 9am. The countryside on this leg of the journey was not quite so majestic but it is interesting and incredibly the road is in an even worse state than yesterday. In places the surface is completely washed away and we bounced around passing unsurprisingly several vehicles with damaged tyres at the side of the road. After about an hour the driver stops and says we are going to visit the fish village. We can't see a river - just one street with lots of stalls selling various types of smoked fish. We realise that the houses on one side of the street are actually built on stilts and overlook a lake where we presume the fish has come from. The market is interesting and it always amazes us the variety of fresh greens and veg available and also what they bbq! The fruit as always is beautifully presented. We are all keen to arrive in Vientiane so hardly stop at all even so it still takes us over 4 and a half hours. Our hotel in Vientiane is in a good position down a side street near the centre overlooking a temple and if you go out on the balcony and look sideways you can see the Mekong. However, it is very wide and shallow with sandbars in the middle so not quite as beautiful as in Luang Prabang. After a short rest we went out to explore and are pleasantly surprised. The French influence is very obvious with some wide avenues and their own version of the Arc de Triomphe. There are lots of shops and restaurants, large cars and hardly any tuktuks. The contrast between this bustling vibrant city and the squalor we saw in some of the villages in the countryside could not be greater. Tony has a foot massage while I wander the streets. One of the nicest things on this trip has been that no one hassles or bothers you. We have found everyone charming and we have felt very safe.