Day 11 & 12 - Chaos to calm

Trip Start Sep 27, 2012
1
11
20
Trip End Nov 06, 2012


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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Vientiane,
Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11

We took a flight from Hanoi to Laos ( Vientiane) (about 1 hour) today.

Laos:

Background
Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th Century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual, limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988.

It is estimated that more bombs were dropped on Laos than anywhere else in history.

Population- 6,586,266 (July 2012 est.)

Religion- 67%25 Buddhist the rest is Christian and other

Language - Lao, French, English and other ethnic

Median Age : 21 years; Life expectancy - Male 61, Female 64 years

Interest fact - estimated opium poppy cultivation in 2008 was 1,900 hectares, about a 73%25 increase from 2007; estimated potential opium production in 2008 more than tripled to 17 metric tons; unsubstantiated reports of domestic methamphetamine production; growing domestic methamphetamine problem (2007)

Currency - Kip ( 13,000 kip = £1)

We reached Laos at about 6pm and were instantly welcomed by lots of mosquitoes lol. The people here are very laid back and friendly. The Lao people are apparently very sensitive about the head and feet! It is considered rude to touch a child on the head for example...we had to leave all our shoes at the door before entering the hotel. We went to dinner at a local restaurant and I tried their national dish called Laap. It's mince meat with lots of herbs and spices served with sticky rice...I instantly remembered Richard lol. I asked for mine without chilli and found it too salty lol! Everyone else seemed to enjoy theirs though so maybe it was just me :)

They had some night markets and we strolled past them after dinner...the people are so lovely here...everyone is smiley and helpful. The place has a really calming aura :)

Day 12 - Vientiane, Vieng Vieng

7:30 start today...we split the group in half and took tuk tuks (uncomfortable but cheap and fun!) to see some sights. We saw the Phat That Luang ...the most important religious monument in Laos. Dave describes the buildings in Laos as 'new ancient' as most of the temples are restored/reconstructed due to the destruction during the bombing. The Phat That Luang looked golden in sunlight and was very peaceful to view. I did notice cracks in the building reminiscent of the war times. Luckily it's the end part of the tourist season and therefore the pace was not busy.

We then visited the independence memorial building which had stunning views from the top (after making full use of the calories from breakfast to climb all those stairs!!).

I'm now on a bus to Vieng Vieng (4 hr drive) which is supposed to have the best veggie burger in the world !! ;)
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