I’d like to say that after hosting twelve visitors over ten visits (there are a few duplicate visitors in there) over the past 12 months that we’ve become pros at this whole hosting thing in Laos. But Vientiane, in particular, is a rapidly changing place these days, and what may be our top places to take guests today might well be gone tomorrow…or moved…or changed in some way. Sleepy as it may appear on the surface, Vientiane somehow manages to keep us on our toes.
Lori’s brother’s (Dan), and fiancee’s (Lauren) visit was unique in that Dan had actually visited Laos before…albeit nearly a decade ago. And like most backpackers (we were no exception ourselves) he only spent 2-3 days in the capital.
Just before arriving in Laos, Dan and Lauren spent a few days in Seoul, where temps were below freezing. They enjoyed their time exploring Dan’s favorite places from living and teaching there for a year, but were happy to bask in the Laos warmth and sunshine when their flight got in Sunday afternoon (it was a dry and pleasant 78 degrees (F)).
Drinks at Kong View on the Mekong, sundowners at Bor Pen Yang (overlooking the Mekong), and grilled Mekong fish dinner at Dok Champa downtown to round out their first evening.
Lori took a vacation day on Monday (but Noe didn’t!), so the four of us took a songteau into town to hit up some of our favorite spots: Breakfast at Kung’s, followed by a visit to Wat Simuang, then on to the COPE visitor centre, Talat Sao/ Kua Din market complex, lunch at Pho Zap, a climb to the top of Patuxay (Victory Monument), a walk around That Luang (golden stupa), Lao full body massages at Manee Spa, and dinner and dancing at KuaLao to round out the evening. Oh, and we did manage to pick up Noe from daycare somewhere in there as well (between massages and dinner).
Walking around Simuang Temple, original home of the City Pillar, among other relics and holy oddities.
A monk officiates at a small basi in the pavilion.
Receiving a blessing in the main hall.
Devout residents pay their respects and leave offerings to the City Pillar of Vientiane.
This may look like people praying to a mailbox…and that’s exactly what it is. But this is no ordinary post box. This is a Merit post box.
While this may look like the Buddha Westerners know and love, this golden Buddha likeness is actually unique in Laos. Generally in Laos, Buddha is depicted as a slender, androgynous being. Stylistically, this Buddha is of the East Asian variety you commonly find throughout China and Japan.
Our first visit inside the That Luang inner compound since extensive renovation finally finished. Looking good Great Stupa!
Inside the colorful and intricately painted That Luang pavilion, a short walk away from the stupa.
After a day and a half with us, Dan and Lauren decided they’d had enough and boarded the first plane to Luang Prabang, returning Thursday night. In the meantime, without Uncle Dan and Aunt Lauren around to sucker into doing his bidding, Noe had fun reacquainting himself with his favorite things around the house.