City break

Trip Start Aug 18, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Saturday, January 5, 2008

Vientiane was, at least, a reasonable attempt at a town. No multi-storey buildings, of course, and only a couple of cars, but there were buildings, shops and restaurants. The sights of Vientiane can easily be visited in a day, but I was tired. After visiting the museum and appreciating the propaganda passing as history, (this being the function of all museums everywhere, I'm beginning to realise, but guidebooks comment on it in communist countries). On my way elsewhere I stopped off at my hotel room, and woke up four hours later. While passing the evening in a cafe I picked up a copy of the Vientiane Times, the only English language paper. The front-page splash was 'FARMERS HAPPY WITH THEIR LOT'. Above a full page picture of some happy farmers. The counry is so slow paced and relaxed, it almost seems that might actually be the biggest news of the day.

I spent the following morning visiting the gold stupa at That Luang, which is Vientiane's St. Pauls and which was indeed very large and shiny.  At lunchtime I climbed Patoxai Arch, an Arc de Triomphe wannabe allegedly constructed with concrete donated by America for a runway.

Million to one coincidences crop up nine times out of ten. This we know. Nonetheless I feigned surprise when, walking idly down the corniche by the Mekong I heard my name from behind me. Turning around, I saw Philippe, the French-Canadian I'd met in Cairo almost a year ago to the day. We spent an hour or so catching up on each others travels before he had to continue on his way. I was done with tourisming and settled in for an afternoon of idling, mooching and loitering.
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