All posts filed under: Laos

Vientiane, Laos is the Weirdest Capital City, Ever

Vientiane is a capital city that doesn’t know it’s supposed to be anything special. I’ve read places that Vientiane is the Paris of the East. I don’t know who the hell penned that one because I have been to Paris, and I liked it. Well, it’s not that I didn’t like Vientiane it’s just that it’s a little devoid of thrill. Frommers describes it as the sleepiest capital city in the world. I would duly describe the people of Laos as the sleepiest in the world. The funny thing to me, is that should you walk down the large promenade of the Hat Don Chan banks, you will see a large set of billboards advertising the city’s grand aspirations. The boards paint a large and glittery metropolis with international brands and tall skyscrapers. It is so ambitious it is comical, warranting a ‘Yah, okay Laos.” So apparently someone in the city thinks Vientiane needs to be a bigger deal. But presently, traffic chokes the large leafy boulevards that characterize the city. There’s a ton of …

VVV: Viva Vang Vieng (Backpacker Ghetto)

Ah, Vang Vieng. Backpacker holy grail. The infamous river float and Friends bars. In comparison to what it really is, these visions are actually quite glamorous. Situated on a river flanked by some very picturesque limestone mountains, VV has a severe infestation of drunk and/or high young adults. Imagine if backpackers were urban planners and could design their very own ghetto. VV would be it. There would be extremely cheap beer and it would be 640ml. It will be named Beerlao and cost 10,000 kip ($1.25). There would be restaurants with tables that you can lay down at (hungover) and watch endless (read: ENDLESS) loops of Friends or Family Guy episodes. There would be bars with multiple platforms in mud pits and these bars would have menus chock full of Opium, K, Special Shakes and weed. Of course our backpacker engineers don’t quite have a grasp on plumbing or sewage management so all bar bathrooms would be absolutely intolerable. Our ghetto would have a lot of free whiskey! Whiskey shots for arriving at a bar, …

Luang Prabang is a Hinterland Outpost and I Love It

It is such a shame that Luang Prabang is tucked away in northern Laos, demanding a two day slow boat arrival or 19 hour overnight bus ride. I didn’t know it when I arrived, but this colonial gem was (for me), Laos’ redemption. Before I left for Southeast Asia, all I knew was that Laos was the youngest sibling of its four neighbors, and very up-and-coming with the backpacker scene. Travelers were flooding into this country to exploit its natural beauty and its laid back attitude. I felt like the last person I knew who hadn’t been to Southeast Asia, let along Laos. Thus, I had a very definite, albeit skewed perception of Laos. What I didn’t know was that the country is very much third world and borderline comatose. This is why Luang Prabang, in reflection, justified my travel time invested in Laos. The main street lined with old French style architecture dominates the centre of this picturesque city. In the evening vendors flood the street, creating a very colorful and animated night market. …

A Brief Introduction to Laos: “Wait, is this hotel an opium den?”

Like our backpacking forefathers we opted to travel to Laos by way of Mekong slow boat. The trip would take two nights, three day and commence in Chiang Mai, Thailand.¬†¬†Greg was not convinced that this would be the best route, favoring the 18 hour overnight bus. My choice won out simply because he hadn’t looked into all of the options, sneaky sneaky me. Day 1: travel by mini bus to Chiang Kong, border town. Stop along the way at the Cashew Factory (for the second time, the first visit happened during our visa run to Myanmar) and the White Temple. The Cashew Factory pays all types of minibus tours to stop at their crummy store and ‘restaurant,’ though clean bathrooms are a redeeming feature. The White Temple was incredible. A stunning white temple adorned with small mirror mosaic bits, it appears to be fashioned out of wax and glitters radiantly in the sunlight. At the southwest corner you will cock your head at a unique design feature: a life size replica of Preditor buried waist …