The VIP transport we take to Vientiane is very nice. The driver is a more conservative driver, so no F-1 racer moves. We are sitting next to a lovely young lady from Toronto, Canada, who had recently been in Bangkok. Since we are putting the finishing touches on our plans, her suggestions were very welcomed. Janet and Christina talked for most of the trip, exchanged addresses, and shared some flu medications.
Janet was a little under the weather again so when we get to the hotel, she slept. Frank went to the pharmacy to get cold medicines and refills on the Malaria pills. As the afternoon approaches, It is steamy hot, but we are hungry and head to a café and bakery that serves massive sized cups of coffee, great soups, BLTs, and desserts. The desserts are a nice, traditional hold over from the French colonization of this area. We went back to the hotel for a swim and some future planning. Tomorrow, we will take a walking tour of the city sights.
Today we ordered a tuk-tuk to visit some temples and capital city sights. We started at “Pha That Luang” which is the national temple complex. It has many glorious buildings on site, but the golden Pagoda is the most striking and is in fact the emblem of the country.
We then drove to the Patuxay. This imposing structure is a loose clone of the Paris Arch De Triumph. The walk up the circular stairway to the 7th level gives exceptional views of the city, which for a capital is rather small city.
We then stopped at the side by side Wat Phra Keo Temple and Wat Si Saket Temple. Of note, the first has intricate carved wooden doors from the 1560 and other relics. The latter is an extremely old monastery, now a museum, that has a collection of Buddhas and very worn and rustic paintings on planks of wood.
We finished the day by visiting the COPE center, a historic museum of sorts dealing with the Laotian aftermath as affected by the US/Vietnamese conflict. The COPE foundation was founded by Americans concerned about helping amputees injured from unexploded war ordinance (UXO-bombs) in the fields that can still detonate and injure civilians. The US Air Force data quoted describes the thousands of Cluster Bombing sorties over Laos to disrupt the supply lines commonly known as the “Ho Chi Minh Trail”. This was a legitimate war tactic, but still providing for the medical needs of current civilians accidentally injured is the goal of COPE.
We left the museum and decided to walk through downtown. There is a lot of high rise construction here. Our path took us pass a large new shopping mall so we stopped in for air con, to look around, and eat lunch. It is multi-story with open core and a food court. We ate a light meal, checked to see if the cinema was timely showing any movies in english-- no, and now refreshed we walked back to the hotel. We spent the afternoon reviewing flight plans for future journeys both before and after we depart from Thailand. Our time in Laos is at an end. We will take a van across the border to Thailand and to the airport to fly to Bangkok.