Monday, 24 January 2011

Vientiane's quite expensive

Monday 24th January 2010

MP3 track of the day: Californication – Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Weather: It's getting hotter!

Yet again the bakery was our destination for breakfast and, yet again, I had the same scummy chocolate muffin I'd had the previous two days. The mini-van came to pick us up at 9am; looking at the van I could tell that it had seen better days. To make matters worse the seat I opted for was quite wobbly however I did have the most leg room within the van so I couldn't complain too much.

At first the air-conditioning was on full blast resulting in the floor being covered in snow. Fortunately it wasn't long before all members of the mini-van petitioned for the air-conditioning to be turned off and so it came to pass; I then sat in the van at the perfect temperature. The view wasn't anywhere near as great as it had been on my last mini-van trip, however I still peered outside whilst listening to my MP3 player. Joe and Rachael were reading, which probably wasn't a bad thing as our driver was terrible. Three times I caught him overtaking a vehicle into a blind corner; with no seat belts I was very worried about the possibility of crashing. Fortunately crash we did not and soon Laos' roadside infrastructure was starting to become more modern and advanced as we made our way to the capital. Firstly the missing tarmac from the roads wasn't a problem, then white lines and street lights made an appearance. Finally I saw traffic lights and dual carriageways which I hadn't seen since Thailand.

As I looked outside the window I noticed that quite a few ATM's had the 'plus' sign which made me breathe a sign of relief. Spotting ATM's is a habit that I do want to get out of however, to stop my worrying, I do think that I'll withdraw enough cash here to hopefully last the next two, and final, weeks within Laos. Surprisingly the mini-van dropped us off right in the heart of town. Rachael, Joe and I headed into town to find some accommodation; two things shocked me about this act. Firstly there isn't a lot of accommodation in Vientiane (and most of it's full) and secondly it's very expensive. I have my own room (again as there are no dorms) for 80,000 kip per night (£6.15). Remember that I spent 30,000 per night in Louang Phabang, 20,000 per night in Phonsavan and 50,000 per night in Vang Viang. We decided to only book one night as we might have a look around town this afternoon for better.

It was 1pm when our bags were in our rooms and we headed out, towards the waterfront, to look for a lunch. Rachael had said that she thought the waterfront would be the cheapest place to eat; I however thought this was a little weird as waterfronts are usually expensive and, for the first five minutes of walking, I was proven correct. However, after passing a couple of streets, we found a decent restaurant with standard prices. Once in the restaurant we saw the two Belgium girls – which was nice – and I saw Claudia (you know, from Penang Malaysia … Mike and I took her to the beach for her birthday). I was massively surprised to see her and we chatted for a little while to see what we had both been up to (She had been moving around South East Asia like a rocket). I asked her, and the Belgium girls, how much they were paying for their accommodation and it looks like I have the cheapest deal.

The meal was nice enough; after wards the rest of the group wanted to see the 'Buddha Park'. I have seen enough Buddhas to last me a life time and so I declined the offer to join and went back to my guesthouse to chill before heading out into the local area to have a quick look. We'd decided to meet at 7pm for dinner were I would also meet Patrick again as he was in Vientiane.

The group were back from the Buddha Park a lot earlier than I expected, however Joe was pretty tired and so Joe, Rachael and I still decided to meet the others at 7pm at a fountain. The fountain wasn't flowing as we approached it; we didn't have to wait long before Patrick and the two Belgium girls came into view … the old 'Plain of Jars' group – besides Fabien – were back together. We spent the rest of the evening in a restaurant chatting away until we were kicked out. We were in there so long that we left a good tip as we hadn't ordered much.

After, what seems like, a long day I was pretty tired and so I headed straight to sleep. Tomorrow I shall meet Patrick at my guesthouse - at 10am - and he's going to take the other bed within my room sharing the cost (which is great, brings it down to 40,000 kip per night). Until then, good night.

Toodle Pip!

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