Lao National Cultural Hall
I'm glad we decided to spend two days in Vientiane as I think I needed the second day of relaxing. We had gone to bed early that first night since I was tired from all the traveling and I thought oh we will get up early-ish no problem. The hotel had breakfast until 9:30 and we thought we would eat then maybe go spy on the morning market and do some sight seeing before it gets too hot. Ha ha. Yeah, we slept in till after 10. By the time we got ready to go, got dressed and slathered the sunscreen on, it was lunchtime. Morning market is for the early morning so we didn't get to do that.
Instead we just walked over to lunch. It was on the other side of town, but it doesn't take that long to get there as it is not that big of a city. It was like a 20 minute walk maybe. Not that far, but oh so hot again. We walked by the Lao National Cultural Hall which was this large fancy looking building, which happens to be right across the street from the Lao National Museum...which I didn't take a picture of as it just looked like a kind of run down building. Lunch was so tasty! A buffet so you can eat as much as you want! This place was right across from where we ate dinner and was so much better than the lunch buffet from day one.
After lunch we just went back to the room to hide from the heat of the day. I can still remember just how hot those first days were. I am just not made for the heat and humidity.
We hid out in our room until 5 then headed off to spy in That Luang - the most important religious building in Laos and the countries national symbol. It is on all the money and you see it all over the place so I thought we should really check it out. Oh a note about the money and one thing I loved about Laos - it is all paper money! No coins! It was great as it is so much easier to just carry your wallet around with bills in than a change purse as well. It was about a half hour walk from our hotel and went past Patouxai (photo above) so win win.
Even though Patouxai is a concrete monster the inside was really pretty. You can't really tell, but each tile is surrounded by silver that glittered in the sunlight.
There is also a nice park area to sit on either side of the concrete monster. I just love that that is what the sign called it. It makes me think that in the middle of the night it goes stomping through town destroying everything! Oh no! The concrete monster is here!! Yeah...
Walking out to That Luang was pretty easy. Along the way was this kind of run down children's part with a little ferris wheel and some rides. I know it is hard to see, but I enjoyed it. The people on the way out there were also super nice. Everyone stopped to say hello with a smile, they were all just super friendly. It wasn't far from downtown, but felt like you were in a different place. Not that the people downtown were mean or anything it was just that no one talked to you. I am glad we walked instead of taking a tuk tuk as it was fun to interact with the people who lived there a little bit.
And we finally made it. The guidebook said it was particularly nice around sunset as it just glows since the sun is shining directly on it, and it was really nice. The sun does hit is perfectly to just make is shine. Oh, and there were a few vendors set up in the courtyard before the That and there was one with hats. I didn't bring a hat with me partly because I couldn't find one I like and partly because I hate wearing hats when it is hot, but it was hot enough there that the hat would actually help in the sun (but only when the sun was actually shining on me). I was looking at a straw one and I asked how much and the guy said the equivalent of $7.50 which was way too much. Then a lady came over and said $2 and that was fine by me so I got it. I didn't remember until afterwards that you are supposed to haggle, which I am terrible at, but that is a story for another day. Either way $2 for my hat was a good deal so I didn't mind.
There were lots of buildings surrounding That Luang, but I am not sure what they all were.
Having a sits at the That as the sun was setting. Notice my new hat!
After our sitz we headed back to the room to get more water and make our way to dinner. This was the sunset over the large paved area - absolutely beautiful!
A wat on the way back to town
The concrete monster at night
You can see the sparkly around the tiles in the back. Really pretty inside.
Walking around town you would sometimes get a whiff of something that doesn't smell the best. I thought it was just garbage, but when we were walking back through town we were behind a few girls and the one reached over and grabbed a few leaves from this tree and made the other girls smell it. The other girls were all eeeww! And it smelled not so good so apparently it is just the one plant there. Not sure what it was, but it doesn't have a pleasant aroma.
After dinner we walked back by the night market and the water, but I was way too hot and sweaty so we just headed back to the room. Before we left I was looking at reviews for hotels and some of the people complained that the water didn't ever get really hot in the showers, but man I couldn't imagine wanting to take a hot shower. As it was we took two cold showers a day - one after lunch and one at night when we got back from dinner. I know there are some cooler months, but at the time I was just like lies! I cannot imagine it ever being cool enough for a hot shower! I am sure it is though...So that was the fun we had in Vientiane.