Mekong Sunset in Vientiane

After 15 hours on a bus to Udon Thani, then another bus to Nong Khai (about an hour or so), then a tuk tuk to the border, a border exit, a bus to the next border crossing entry point, entry at the Lao border and another tuk tuk we arrived in Vientiane and met Dre’s dad Tom’s friends Garry and Suni.  We had lunch with them and after a few hours of chatting and formulating a plan of action for the following day, we set out to find somewhere to sleep.  This time thankfully we have stayed in a much nicer area of Vientiane than last time, near the Mekong and the main temples and cafes.  Vientiane is still really hot, dusty, and congested with traffic, but we are pleased to say that with Garry and Suni’s guidance we have managed to enjoy aspects of this city this time.  We have really enjoyed their company also – it’s amazing to us (but not surprising) how much like Tom and Lili they are, such kind people wanting to do anything and everything to make our stay more comfortable and enjoyable and always giving helpful advice.

Garry and Dre walking in Vientiane along the Mekong

We  had tentatively planned to head south to finally see southern Laos – and we still could if we wanted a really whirlwind tour – but with the visa process taking a few more days than expected (or perhaps more truthfully it was partly expected, since we are in Laos!), we’ve decided that instead of rushing to see the south and missing half of it, we will once again not go there yet.  Instead we will head north and see some of the northern parts of Laos that we haven’t seen yet, as well as probably a few that we have, and have time to have a more leisurely break before meeting Dre’s sister Kate in Luang Namtha.  We might have to come back to Vientiane again anyway in a couple of weeks to collect the visa, so perhaps we will have time then to see the South.  Ironically we would have had plenty of time if we had have left Luang Namtha when we had intended to instead of staying for the Buddhist Lent celebrations; but no regrets there.  So tonight we board yet another night bus, and head for Phonsovan to see the Plain of Jars.  Our photos of our time in Vientiane are here.

Temple in Chiang Rai: found

You may or may not recall, a couple of months back we went up a temple on a hill in Chiang Rai and far in the distance we could see another cool looking temple.  We mentioned on this blog that we hoped to find it at some point in the future, so this time when we were in Chiang Rai Dre accepted the challenge of picking the right road to find this temple.  And succeeded!

Temple we found about 15 minutes out of Chiang Rai

From the hill we first viewed it on, it looked almost like an Aztec structure but when we got up close it turned out to be a fairly new, very well maintained Chinese temple.  We arrived with perfect timing – we got to see the sunset behind the temple and when we walked right up to the top inside the views from every side were amazing.  Inside the smell was so good – all of the Buddha’s and other statues were carved from Sandalwood so the entire temple was filled with the awesome scent of the wood.

Temple sunset in Chiang Rai

Thong came to meet us to take everything back to Luang Namtha for the shop, and so we took him to try his first ever pizza.  He went into the kitchen and convinced the staff to let him try olives, capers, and anchovies for the first time also – they thought it was hilarious for a sheltered jungle boy from Laos to come to the big city in Chiang Rai and try so many ‘firsts’.

Thong checking out the woodfired pizza oven in Chiang Rai Buddha made of Sandalwood in Chiang Rai










Now we are about to board a night bus for 15 hours to get to Vientiane – it’s much quicker to go this way than to travel down Laos and unfortunately we have to return to our least-favourite part of Laos to get our new visas.  Our photos from Chiang Rai are here.