Friday, January 27, 2012

Laost in Translation

So now we are in Laos. This was not in the original plan. We had intended to go from Siem Reap to Phenom Penh (capital of Cambodia) to get our Vietnam visa. For some reason Vietnam does not issue visas on arrival (unlike every other SE Asian country we have been to). No problem. We were aware of this and had planned appropriately. Except for every Vietnam embassy closing not just for Chinese New Year (on January 23rd), but for a full (insert cuss word here) week afterwards. This meant that we had to wait until January 30th to even start the process. This did not make our decision to pre-emptily get Vietnam plane tickets (first one from Ho Chi Ming to Hue on January 28th) look like a wise one.

It was a travelling crossroad. We could continue onto Phenom Penh (which I am sure is a perfectly fine city but once our Angkor Wat tour guide said it was full of "gangsters" we kind of soured on it), or look to make some lemonade out of the situation. So just like that we embraced the concept of coming to Laos. This means we miss southern Vietnam, but we should still have some quality time in and around Hanoi (where we will be hopefully obtaining our India visas. And yes - we have flights to India booked already. But this time with cancellation insurance. Sometimes we do learn).

The challenge now was how to get to Laos, and where to go in Laos? Unfortunately busing was not an option, as there is only one bus from Siem Reap and it was full for its next few runs. Too bad. This meant it was back to the air. We flew from Siem Reap to Pakse Laos, where we got our visas on arrival. What a wonderful concept! After looking around Pakse a bit we decided that we had seen enough and we would head for Vientiane (capital of Laos) that night on the sleeper bus.

Now we are not sleeper bus rookies anymore. But this one was different. Your "seat" is actually a bed. Thankfully Heather clued into what this would mean and quickly asked the ticket agent to buy 4 tickets. Yes - if not for her quick thinking it was quite possible that I would have spent the night snuggled up to ....(I can't even contemplate it). You can judge for yourself just how comfy the "seats" were.

Once arriving in Vientiane and getting settled in our guest house (which Chloe sourced) we headed out to explore the city. Over the next two days we saw temples;

and Presidential Palaces:

and historical monuments:

and monks on the shores of the Mekong River (fisherman too):

and awe-inspiring acrobatic displays:

and fiery sunsets:

Now its onto Vang Vieng for a couple of days of Laos recreation before we come back to Vientiane to (fingers-crossed) get the elusive Vietnam visa. Whose elusiveness in the end was maybe a good thing.


  1. We loved Laos and so glad you are there! Had the same issue for visas when we tried to get our China ones - one day holidays mean 7 day delays! ha. IF you can get to Luang Prabang and north via river boats you will love it and it will be well worth your time. Best of luck with India visas - the most trying part of the year trip is the blasted visas as far as I can tell. Still living through vicariously as we slog our way through working after a year like yours.

  2. Laos has been voted one of the happiest places on earth. I hope you're finding that to be true.

    Love the picture of the monks!