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6 Days In Charming, Laid Back, Laos

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Jul 16th, 2012, 09:53 AM
  #1
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6 Days In Charming, Laid Back, Laos

In my initial planning of my “Rock Star” trip to South East Asia, Laos was not high on my tour list. After spending six days there I am glad I listened to my band manger and made it one of our stops. It would have been a huge mistake not to have visited this beautiful, charming and peaceful country.

I hope my shared stories and experiences will convince you to put it on your list even if you cannot tour it like a “Rock Star”.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 11:41 AM
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Someday.... right now my focus seems to be on visiting friends in Bangkok for the most part! I'm slowly branching out to other places though.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 01:27 PM
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Where did you go in Laos?
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Jul 16th, 2012, 03:12 PM
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So glad you enjoyed Laos... Not Laos-y at all, huh?

I've been enjoying your videos.

Hope you'll continue to share them.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 11:08 PM
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simpsonc510,

I'm sending you some "MiracleGro" so you can branch out faster especially to places like Laos

Trips from BKK-LPQ or VTE are easy and quick by air (more $$) or slow and adventureous by bus/train (more fun)
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Jul 16th, 2012, 11:11 PM
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Kathie,

Visited Vientiane, Vang Vieng and of course Luang Prabang. Postings about all of them to follow soon.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 11:15 PM
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mbran,

Again, you were right on target

Not Laos-y at all especially since I learned the "S" is not pronounced.

Hence Beer Lao... Not Laos-y Beer
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Jul 16th, 2012, 11:19 PM
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Chilin in Vientiane

After a long overnight train ride from Bangkok,it is time to chill and relax before setting off to explore more of Laos. A visit to an Internet Cafe and the search for one night of accommodation begins in Vientiane.

At Dragon Lodge Guesthouse we inspect a room and for US$10 per night although it is no Holiday Inn Express, we take it. A nice hot shower and it's time to walk around the town before having an early dinner.

Across the street from Dragon Lodge is The Lao National Cultural Hall which I am excited to visit. However, I am disappointed to discover that there is nothing to see. Apparently, the hall is used only for special events and there are no permanent cultural displays except the building itself.

A few steps from That Dam we grab a table at a local restaurant where the menu looks interesting. My first sampling of Beer Lao comes served on “The Rocks” and I love it. A nice relief from the afternoon heat.

My second disappointment of the afternoon comes when I learn they are all out of wild boar. I settle for another order of Pad Thai which turns out to be delicious. I'm really taking a liking to the way most food seems to be served in South East Asia, with chili peppers. A complete meal for two, about US$6!

As we are dining a mother and her son are watching us with curiosity. At first, I am sure they are looking for a handout but I am pleasantly surprised that it seems as if they only want to entertain us.

Interestingly, they follow us as we leave the restaurant for a short stroll to That Dam. Turns out they are fun and we figure we would be glad to hang out with these dogs anytime.

Our chilin plans continue with a traditional Lao massage that you can get for less than a Hamilton (US$10). The night then ends on a sweet note with a visit to Jo Ma Bakery Cafe, a popular hangout for locals and tourists.

I go to bed with visions of Mango Crumb Cake, Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies and Coconut Layered Tarts dancing in my head.


Video:http://youtu.be/C-k4Aa1I6pg
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Jul 17th, 2012, 07:16 AM
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avoid the "on the rocks"... ice can cause big problems
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Jul 17th, 2012, 09:04 AM
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rhkkmk,

Avoiding "On the rocks" would be to drink the beer like a tourist.

As much as I can I try to experience my travels like a local even if I occasionally pay a small price in the end

Like American Express never leave home without Pepto or Imodium
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Jul 17th, 2012, 07:18 PM
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Ice is not a problem in Vientiane and in fact throughout Lao.
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Jul 17th, 2012, 08:03 PM
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Vientianeboy,

Having spent 6 days in Laos, eating and drinking all types of foods and beverage, I would tend to agree with you.

In fact, not once in about 3 weeks in SE Asia did I have to breakout the Pepto.

I would say some people are more sensitive to foreign food so a word of caution would not be out of place unless it is meant to cause unnecessary concern or fear.
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Jul 17th, 2012, 08:21 PM
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no some people have common sense and do not have interruptions to their holidays
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Jul 17th, 2012, 09:23 PM
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rhkkmk,

You are so right, the rest of us have no common sense and our vacations are also ruined by ice
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Jul 17th, 2012, 09:26 PM
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Tuk Tuk To The Golden Temple


The night passes too quickly as the morning sun sneaks it way through the curtain cracks of our first floor hotel room. It will be a short morning as we will leave Vientiane on a bus at 10am for Vang Vieng.

I rise but not necessarily shine for a quick tour of what is considered the most important temple in Laos.

Just outside of Dragon Guesthouse we find a tuk tuk driver lounging around that will take us to The Golden Temple for about US$5 round trip. Although I am sure you can still bargain for tuk tuk fares, it is interesting that this tuk tuk has posted fares sanctioned by the government to popular destinations around the city.

From a stop at a local gas station, if my calculations are correct the price of gasoline is pretty high here. About US$5 per gallon. Luckily, I think a tuk tuk gets about 500-600 miles to the gallon.

It is still early enough in the morning that when we arrive at The Golden Temple the area is still relatively vacant and quiet. A walk across a huge open area where pilgrims gather during religious festivals and I can soon see close up some of the other beautiful temples here.

From a sign posted outside of The Golden Temple I learn that some of Buddha's bones are buried here. With a limited amount of time I only get to enjoy this temple from the outside. There is a small admission fee if you want to tour inside the temple.

Again, I am in awe of the skill and craftsmanship on display as I look at these splendid buildings. More time should be allowed to enjoy the scene and serenity here on a morning like this.

Roasted corn is not the first food that comes to mind when I think about breakfast, however, it is hard to pass up when you can get two of them fresh for about a buck. Enjoying one of them on the back of a tuk tuk and I think can life get any better than this.

Video:http://youtu.be/R8VixgUj7AE
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Jul 17th, 2012, 11:27 PM
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I never had any problems with any ice in Laos either. I never had any problems with any food or drink while there.
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Jul 18th, 2012, 04:47 AM
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live42day,

If you did not take some of the postings here with a sense of humor and a "large grain of salt" you wouldn't go anywhere or experience the true joy of traveling.

I image some would even have a problem with "Vanilla Ice" in Florida!
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Jul 18th, 2012, 12:39 PM
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Afternoon In Vang Vieng

After what seemed like a short bus ride across a beautiful lush green and sometimes mountainous landscape, we arrive at a bus station just outside of Vang Vieng.

Although it is a short walk into town, most of us are transported by a free tuk tuk to a drop point at Malany Villa.

With no accommodations arranged for the next two nights, we inquire about rooms available at Malany. We decide to go for broke and get a room with air-conditioning, a large bathroom, a queen and a double bed along with a TV for US$10.

I find it a very cool custom that shoes are not allowed to be worn inside the hotel. A rack is provided at the main entrance for them or you can carry them to your room.

From the open lobby of Malany you can easily see some of the picturesque scenery that makes Vang Vieng a popular stop for those traveling to or from Luang Prabang.

A cold beer in hand and we are walking the streets to a river that flows through the town. From here tubing and kayaking trips can be easily arranged.

As usual the streets are lined with shops and restaurants but there is something strange and unique about many of the restaurants. It seems many of the locals and tourists here are into having friends and old fashioned values while dining.

Jennifer Aniston and Peter Griffin are pretty popular here and you can see them over and over and over again while you are dining.

More of a street food kind of person when traveling, I stop at a popular venue around town. A Crepe, Pancake making stand. With all types of combinations available, I choose a fat free, lemon, honey and sugar one.

Angelic and delicious, you can bet the farm I'll be back to try a few other tasty combinations.

After our slight and worthwhile delay, we arrive at the riverfront to take in the gorgeous scenery surrounding Vang Vieng. While others enjoy the river for recreation, others use it as a way of life. I relax and watch as a fishing boat with a crew of four including a young child troll and work the sometimes fast flowing river.

For me, it is beautiful and majestic to witness this simple way of fishing as a huge white net is repeatedly cast overboard. I am not sure what is being caught but I never see “the big one that got away”.

The sun is slowly setting behind cloudy skies but it's light still gives the flowers, river and colorful stilt houses a sparkle. All of this makes for a splendid and tranquil end to the day along the riverfront.

As promised, I stop for another fat free sinful delight and get an unexpected surprise. I am offered to share in the dinner of the lady that had earlier made us pancakes. I am handed a leaf filled with meat, noodles and vegetables along with seasonings that's dripping with an oily dressing. A lettuce leaf type wrap that is not politically or “omg, I'm going to get fat” correct.

On the way back to Malany Villa it is time again for what has become sort of self-funded scientific project. After another awesome Lao massage, I wonder how long I can lay here like a marshmallow melting over a campfire before they force me to leave?

Video:http://youtu.be/cd4olgB4mcI
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Jul 18th, 2012, 06:02 PM
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Nearly all Jumbos, tuk tuks and Sky labs in Lao run on petrol, not gas. Petrol costs a bit more than a $1.00 a litre. 500 miles per gallon!!!! My god, the world's energy crisis would be solved.
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Jul 18th, 2012, 08:19 PM
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Vientianeboy,

Thanks for your non criticizing, humorous response.

I think what you refer to as petrol, in the US we call it natural gas (propane).

On my mini-van trip from Siem Reap to Bangkok we did have to get out of the van while it was being fueled with "petrol".

Don't you know that for years the "Oil Producers" and "Car Makers" have been keeping the 400 mile per gallon carburetor under wraps?

I thought it had escaped and made it's way to Laos
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