Friday, 28 January 2011

Golden temples, arguments and night buses

Thursday 27th January 2011

MP3 track of the day: Bat out of hell - Meatloaf

Weather: Hot but cloudy

Every morning … yes every morning I've been in Vientiane the 'Wat' across the road has been holding some kind of party … starting at 6am! There are tents outside the temple and, roughly around 6am, music starts playing with some monk blabbering on about something or other. Add to this that I can hear running water from my room all the time the result has been me getting up very early each and every day. Today was no exception, however I did think about going over to said party and unplugging the monks microphone. I felt sorry for Joe and Rachael as at least I'm sleeping at the back of the guesthouse, they're right near the front.

Once ready I went to get some snacks for my night coach to Savannakhet before checking out and putting my luggage within Joe and Rachael's room. I had absolutely nothing to do today … nothing to see and nothing to do. Joe and Rachael wanted to see the 'Golden temple'; I decided to walk with them and have another look as it sounded better than just sitting within the guesthouse all day. After this Joe and Rachael wanted to head to an internet cafe, which was fine by me as I had a load of photos to upload to the internet … only that the internet, within the cafe, wasn't good enough to upload anything at all.

It was during our internet cafe outing that Joe and Rachael had an argument about where to head to next (benefit of traveling alone, I never argue with myself) and they left the internet cafe and headed back to the guesthouse. I decided that I should really give them sometime to themselves (I had been spending a lot of time with them recently) and so I decided to head out into the streets of Vientiane by myself … but what was I going to do?

I ended up with selecting my old 'fail-safe' … a shopping center. No only 'a' shopping center but Vientiane's 'only' shopping center. Three floors of confusing stores - that looked more like car boot stands - didn't take me long to browse through and so I soon found myself pondering at my map asking myself what could I do that didn't involve any money. I walked past a posh pizza restaurant to see how much the prices were (and laughed when they were more expensive than the ones you can get within the UK) before turning to my left to find an ice cream palour. Inside was like a surgeons theater with a spotless white floor; behind glass panels sat many different flavors of ice cream and when I looked at the menu my mouth watered. Banana Split, Chocolate Sunday and white chocolate with strawberries to name just a few fantastic concoctions on offer. The prices were expensive and so I left, however for a special treat it wasn't that bad.

In the end I ended up at a small convenience shop purchasing a 'Black Forest Cornetto' and a bottle of Pepsi. I made my way to the fountain I saw two days ago and parked myself on one of the many benches that surrounded it (making sure that I was in shade). As I ate my ice cream I thought about important topics such as the universe, life and just how good would that Banana Split taste. I didn't make any ground-breaking discoveries with the above three topics and so I moved onto another, just how lucky I am to go traveling. I may grumble about South East Asia, I may say that it isn't as good as the rest of the world (and I still hold to that) but when I think that I've seen the Petronas Towers, Taman Negara Rainforest, tea plantations, swam with tropical fish, ridden an elephant, seen the Bridge over the River Quay, cooked a Thai green curry, seen the White Temple, took the slow boat down the Mekong river, visited the Plain of Jars and seen the Golden temple - within Vientiane - twice … I have certainly experienced, and seen, things that I shall never forget. You know, for all it's faults, South East Asia is a pretty amazing place … I thought to myself. I would have liked to continue my thoughts but I had a Lao woman, to my left, staring at me and giving me the 'eye' continuously. I decided to pick up my bottle of Pepsi and move to the river front to continue my thoughts about this 'once in a life time opportunity' that I was having.

The sun was hidden behind the clouds and so it was perfectly fine for me to sit on the side of the Mekong River, without any shade, watching the water flow by. In it's own way, it's very beautiful and Vientiane should use the riverfront more.

It was 5:45pm and I was getting picked up within an hour and fifteen minutes. Even though it was super early, Joe and Rachael came out with me for our last meal before returning back to the guesthouse to collect my things from their room. I moved most of my money from my bag onto my person; my 'Pac-safe' went into my day bag and so did my coat (it's freezing on night buses). All three of us waited in reception until 7:30pm (thirty minutes late) when my tuk-tuk arrived to pick me up. I said goodbye and we think that we will probably see each other in Paxke, or the For Thousand Islands.

Just like the rest of South East Asia Vientiane's bus station is nine miles out of the city center and so a tuk-tuk was needed to transfer me to my night coach. I talked to a Hungarian on the tuk-tuk however he wasn't going where I was; anyway my mind was on this coach. I was just praying that nothing of mine would get stolen. Once at the coach I waited outside of it until the luggage door was shut (to make sure that my bag was on board and that no one was within the compartment). I wasn't the only one waiting; I chatted to two British girls, heading to Savannakhet, as we watched the bus driver load delivery boxes into the luggage compartment. As we all got onto the coach the luggage door slammed shut … leaving a very 'man shape' hole inside. Once upstairs, within my seat (I sat next to a very nice Lao lad … he spoke little English), I herd the luggage door open again. From my seat I couldn't see that side of the coach however the two British girls could and they gave me the 'thumbs up' when all was good. The two British girls were as paranoid, even more so, that I due to the fact that they have already had stuff stolen on a night bus within Thailand … which was comforting to know.

I put my wallet, MP3 player, phone and passport within my day bag and 'pac-safed' it to the chair in front of me. I wasn't planning on going to sleep, how could I, but I made the swap just encase. Once out of the bus station it was pitch black; we made a short stop five minutes into the journey where I could tell that the luggage door had been opened once again. Was it someone getting in or was it one of the drivers deliveries. All I knew is that there was no way that I could monitor the situation and I just had to accept it. After that I actually found it easy to drift off to sleep, partly due to the comfortable reclining seats and the blanket provided. Next up Savannakhet!

Toodle Pip!

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