My return from the islands ended the first part of my Thailand adventure. When I arrived back in Bangkok I bought a train ticket to Nong Khai a city which bordered Laos. From Bangkok the train headed North and then West. Packed urban landscapes transformed into rural countryside outside my window. Small cities and towns clustered around the train tracks. When I first boarded the train some woman came by carrying fruit and soda. As the train continued the dishes became more and more elaborate until around dinner time a man walked through the train aisle with a chicken spatchcocked and roasted over a fire. The ride took a total of 10 hours and when we arrived at Nong Khai the sun had set on my last day in Thailand. I hopped in a tuk tuk and made the short trip to the border. I got my exit stamp out of Thailand and then road a bus across the border into Laos. I wasn’t sure what was waiting for me on the other side but I thrived in Thailand and I knew I would thrive in Laos as well.
When I was looking up things to do in Vientiane not much came up. It has a reputation as being one of the “sleepiest” capitals not just in SE Asia but the world. I wandered the night markets after my late night arrival and they did not have the bustling energy I had grown used to in Bangkok. When I woke up the next day I wandered around the downtown area. With a population of around eight hundred thousand people I was able to walk down large parts of the city without seeing anyone. The streets seemed to never know the weight of traffic- the air free of congestion.
Vientiane has a number of beautiful temples, the oldest being Pha That Luang which i didn’t get to see, but through my wanderings i stumbled across some beautiful sculptures and temples celebrating Buddha. The architecture had slight differences from what I had seen in Thailand. It’s clear that Lao and Thailand are like sibling nations.
The crown jewel of the city for me has to be the Patuxai, a war monument built between 1957-1968. It is dedicated to everyone who died fighting the French during the struggle for independence. I loved sitting under it and examining the details in the ceiling. Vientiane was a very relaxing entry into the country of Laos, I had one more excursion around this capitol before I headed north to continue my journey.
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