Making up for our laziness

Trip Start Mar 09, 2008
1
9
43
Trip End Dec 10, 2008


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Where I stayed
RD Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Vientiane,
Thursday, April 3, 2008

April 27 2008
 
            It has been a long time since we have posted anything on our blog other then to say we are sorry and pictures are on the way.  Well, now the computer is fixed !!  And we are ready to upload some of the things we saw and did in Vietnam and Vietienne, Laos.  A little backwards but oh well!!! Right now we are sitting on the beach most of the days at Nature Beach resort on Koh Chang.   It is beautiful here !!!  But more about that later.
            First of all, Laos.  More of a continuation of what we have already written, a little more about Vientiene since we covered it very breifly.  We had the best Salad Nicoise that I have ever had, and a bottle of wine, funny thing about wine, it is really expensive even compared to back home.  12 dollars for the cheapest bottle of wine, if the prices were to be reflected equally a bottle should only cost 3-4 dollars, but alas, I suppose we are not in wine country.  That will change when we are in Australia !!             
            Since Vang Vieng we have hooked up with 3 others that we met in Chiang Mai. Lucy, Jorge and Gothello. So the five us us took the long bus ride into Vientiane. When we got there we only wanted to stay long enough for those 3 to get their visas for Vietnam and book our airline tickets. So with pretty much 1 day to see the sights off we went! We saw the famous "Pha That Luang" (Golden Pagoda), a temple called Wat Si Saket, Laos' very own Arc de Triomphe and got some good pictures. Not to mention some pretty sore sunburns!! Ouch!
            The Golden Pagoda is really quite a sight, and 100 years ago, I would imagine it would have been even greater of a religious symbol.  We say this because it has been completely destroyed no less than twice in recent history. It supposidly has the breastbone of Buddha at its base. Today it is beautiful, but not the original. It had the one main golden phallus and surrounding it had 4 prayer halls. We could walk around freely and climb up the first few levels. There is a surrounding high walled cloister with small windows that contains original statues and artifacts dating back to 1566.  Here is an excerpt from the Lonely Planet book about it,
 
"Each level of Pha That Luang has differnet architectural futures in which buddhist docterine is encoded; visiters are supposed to contemplate the meaning of these features as they walk around.  The first level supports 323 siimaa (ordination stones).  It represents the material world, and also features 4 arched haw wai (prayer halls) with short stairways leading to them, and beyond to the second level.  There are 288 siimaa on this level as well as 30 small stupas symbolising the 30 Buddhist perfections, beginning with alms-giving and ending with equanimity.
Arched gates again lead to the next level, a 30m by 30m square.  The tall central stupa made of brick and stucco is supported here by a bowl shaped base reminiscent of India's first Buddhist Stupa at Sanchi.  The curvilinear, 4 sided spire resembles an elongated lotus bud and is said to symbolise the growth of a lotus from a seed in a muddy lake bottom to a bloom over the lakes surface, a metaphor for human advancement from ignorance to enlightenment in Buddhism."
 
            The Patuxia (Laos Arc de Triomphe) is a great sight, and was built in 1969 with cement donated from the US that was meant for the contruction of an airport.  Oppps, I guess they had different ideas :)  Just like the Arc De Triomphe it is set in the middle of quite a big round-about!! We thought we were pretty cool for crossing the street without problems!! We got a great picture of 3 Buddhist monks sitting next to a pond and fountain, too bad they weren't facing the other direction so we could get the Patuxia in the background !!  The whole structure is quite massive especially standing under it, although not as big as it's french relative in Paris!!
            We also took some pictures as we walked to the sights.  Trying to capture images of everyday life, but we are not professionals  :)
            After a long day of walking around Vientiane, we bought our tickets to Hanoi, they were 130 each, not bad! Now we're off to Vietnam on Laos Airlines!
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