19.1.2017 Vang Vieng to Vientiane (and 21 years of happiness…..)

Another day, another bus! A later start allowed us to have breakfast of fried pancake with banana and nutella for Guy and the slightly more heart stopping nutella and peanut butter for me. We were slightly regretting not having listened to our Geordie mate and put ice in our beer last night…….but the pancakes helped!

Although we had paid for a minivan to Vientiane we were all bundled into an ancient ‘VIP’ (in name only) bus on which no seats worked, some reclined of their own accord, some were bolt upright, refusing to budge. Ours were the freely reclining variety which was unfortunate for the couple behind. There was very little complaining though. We also noticed that we were some of the youngest on the bus, the GreyPacker has really taken off here, with loads of middle aged (to clarify that is 45-65 age bracket now) backpackers spending their kids inheritance, seemingly doing it themselves.

The views out the bus window were still of a poverty stricken country but with kids laughing, smiling and having an afternoon wash in the Mekong. The roads are being created as as we trundle slowly along in our ancient, old bus avoiding the piles of aggregate and freshly smeared tarmac which would complete the road, in Laos time.

Entering Vientiane, it seemed very different to last time, there is more development and less dust, which is not surprising.  It still is very provincial looking though, not a fast food chain in sight or even a 7/11. (Although we saw an advert for Hard Rock Cafe a few days later…..not sure if it was a fake).

We are dropped off on a street about 5 min walk from our hostel, we checked in and we were delighted to see a fridge and a balcony available to us. Sunsets will be fun!

The beauty of being in a former french colony is the legacy of bakeries they left behind, this seemed a naturally sugar laden way of celebrating our 21 years of happiness together. One massive cinnamon roll, a mango crumble and 2 hot chocolates later (my request for iced chocolate falling on deaf ears) we crawled out Joma bakery and continued on our wander around this shabby, half built but wonderfully laid back city. 

A sign promising white wine for 20,000 kip (£2) drew us in, and being sensible we ordered food as well, the heart shaped falafel were delicious! 

We needed to stock up our fridge, so went to the shop for beers, laughing cow cheese and pepper salami. Oooooohhhhhhh la la! Sunset was taking place so we showed off our synchronised drinking skills and relaxed with a view over the local bank.

A walk down the Mekong was quite different, a road has been put in (although only in 2012) for traffic to cruise down the riverside, the level of the river is less (due to Chinese dams upriver) and a massive night market was in progress. Ignoring all that we went straight to food, following our noses to the smell of grilled mests, we had chicken, Laos sausages but the Som Tam we ordered never appeared, so it was a protein heavy meal, accompanied by Beerlao, obviously.  Leftovers went to a feral dog who woo’ed us with his big brown eyes.

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