The boat dropped us off a little outside the city. Since there are heaps of boats docked directly at the city I suspect some subsidy shenanigans. Anyway with ~20 people in the tuk-tuk we drove to the city where we got dropped off next to our hostel. Right away the influence of UNESCO was distinct. Most roads were clean probably because of the frequent trash cans. Also the prices in the restaurants were outrages partially at least on the main road.
Our hostel was really nice with a free tea buffet and an older American – Laotian couple that helped us a lot with planning activities and restaurant selection. After the check-in we explored the city we watched a local ceremony where locals give food to the monks and wash a Buddha by pouring water on an aqueduct like contraption. Unfortunately it was getting dark and the pictures turned out really bad so my description has to suffice.
Near the temple we met 2 German girls that were also on our boat and together we went to the night market and tried the big buffet that they build there every day. The food was a bit cold, you had to smash everything (sweet, sour, spicy, salty…) in a bowl and there was no description of the food (since I am not really an adventurous eater…) but besides that: Delicious! Nearby they had amazing mini pancakes as dessert and we finished the day of with a beer at a local bar where they gave us mushroom chips… YUCK!
The next day we walked to a hill right next to the city with a temple on top and a nice view of the city. Since it was really hot and humid again this short climb up the stairs was surprisingly exhausting. Later we met up with the girls and some other people from our hostel for some drinks. We also tried the local rice-based whiskey that had quite a punch.
One big attraction a little outside the city is a big waterfall. After my experience in Chiang Rai I was skeptical but it sounded promising. Especially since the hostel owners recommended a nearby restaurant.
The waterfall turned out to be really nice. There was a small hike that led to the upper level where we could cool off a bit and enjoy the view. After hanging out there for a bit we got hungry and decided to seek out the recommended restaurant. Once we finally found the place it turned out really nice! The food was delicious and very spicy and they also had their own little waterfall and natural pool area. Once we cooled off in the pool we took our scooters and started our drive home.
On the way back we made a quick detour on a gravel road since our friend the hostel owner also recommended a scenic route. Unfortunately our chosen gravel road turned out not to be correct and REALLY unfortunately was that I kinda crashed with my scooter when we turned around. Really stupid and besides some damage to the scooter (repair was ~30 € in the end) I had some nasty wounds that would burden me quite a bit the next couple of days.
Back at the hostel I cleaned the wounds with my trusty med kit and we headed out again (very, very cautious with the scooter) to a nearby hot pot restaurant. You basically have a bowl shaped grill in the middle and you can put meat on top and veggies in the broth on the sides. The cherry on top was the amazing peanut sauce that you could refine with garlic and chilly before dipping your food in it. This was definitely one of the culinary highlights of my trips.
I would have preferred to stay a bit longer to get my wounds dry but I already had booked a night bus south for the next day and also a flight out of Laos so my itinerary was set.
The ~9 hour nightbus to Vientiane was horrible. I couldn’t sleep at all and had some stomach problems (maybe too much peanut sauce?) and was not in good shape when we arrived. I split a tuk-tuk with a girl I met there and was lucky enough that my hostel had my room ready. But before I hit the mattress I had to eat something. So while wandering around looking for an open shop or restaurant I seemed to look really desperate because a women from a closed food stall gave me a big baguette for free. Combined with some cola to calm my stomach down it was enough to get to sleep.
After some hours of rest I still felt pretty bad but hungry again. So I decided to walk to a nearby pizza place (no experiments!). I barely made it the 15 minute walk to the restaurant and actually could not finish my good pizza. An unmistakable sign that stuff was wrong!
A good night of sleep later I felt a bit better which was fortunate because it was my last day to explore the city. I managed to walk to a nearby temple and the big Arc de Triomphe that shows the relationship of Laos to France. Apparently the Laotians build it just a bit higher to trump the counterpart. 😉
I finished the day by getting my honor back at the pizza place and actually ordered a beer which is a sign that I was recovering.
So after this short stop in Vientiane where I had to leave a couple of stuff unchecked I left Laos and flew to Hanoi in Vietnam.