Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus in Laos

Trip Start Oct 06, 2007
Trip End Apr 06, 2007

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Friday, December 22, 2006

Sabaidee and Happy Holidays!

In late December, we decided to leave the noisy chaos of Ha Noi behind for the more relaxing pace of Laos. We arrived in Vientiane, the capital city, and immediately fell in love with the serene atmosphere. Orange-clad monks strolled through the relatively empty streets, while tuk-tuks transported tourists past the crumbling communist buildings and once-grand French villas.

Although Laos and Viet Nam are neighbors, they have vastly different cultures. Laos, a country of 8 million people, does not have one majority ethnicity; rather it is made up of many minority groups-among them the Hmong and Lao. Laos is also a country that is far more religious than Viet Nam. Each town we visited, no matter how small, had at least one wat, and we spent plenty of time getting to know them.

After dropping our bags off at our hotel overlooking the Mekong, we hired bikes to tour the city. Biking around turned out to be a great way to visit the colorful wats and explore the monk-infested area. We even discovered bagels along our route; although, we didn't find any monks eating bagels. (See what happens when a New Yorker and a Jew travel through Southeast Asia-they go looking for bagels.)

Two days in Vientiane were enough to get a feel for the city. and we then departed for Vang Viang 200 kilometers north.
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