I've just returned from a trip to Laos with my Aussie friend who lives in Hanoi and his mother who comes from Melbourne. We flew with Vietnam airlines where they serve a terrible bread roll and water as a meal. We arrived in Vientiane after about an hour's flight at about 8pm. The customs staff are similar to Vietnamese customs staff with serious faces for the travellers who are coming to spend money in Laos. Interesting that they laugh when they talk with each other. Is that wierd? I suppose it's their job to be serious.
Wow is the first word I said when I get out of my hotel in the morning for a wander. The Laos people are so sweet, soft and friendly. I felt like I am at home in Nha Trang because we almost look the same in appearance. Unfortunately, I cannot speak Laos or Thai. Laos people can speak Thai because they are right next to each other and their languages are similar. I tried to speak Laos to them according to the small section in the guide book but I always got confused about saying hello and people just looked at me and smiled.
There are many expensive hotels and residences around due to many foreigners working and travelling to Laos and equally there are many dodgy guest houses, mostly full with backpackers on tight budgets. We stayed in the Soukxana guest house in front one of the most expensive resorts in Vientiane, a place I couldn't afford of course. Anyway, I was really pleased with the Soukxana which was really clean and had friendly staff. It was only$8 for a fan room or $13 for an air conditioned room. The Soukxana's not located along the river but just a few minutes walk and very quiet.
It's hard to compare cities but Vientiane is so different to where I am living right now- Hanoi. You can see the capital really developing with lots of old roads being improved and homes and buildings going up. Vientiane is much quieter than what I expected. I was really surprised about the traffic situation; there are more cars and 'tuk tuks' than bicycles and motorbikes and people follow the traffic rules which impressed me a lot.
We hired two motorbikes and our adventures will be in the next posts.