* First of all I'd like to thank the new readers from Spain, Cuba and Canada who have visited the GuerillaZ travel blog this week.
A Change of Plan
Back over the border into Laos. Vietnam must wait. One of the joys of being on the road. Changing plans. True, that set of four zips on your rucksack starts making that familiar noise as items are packed back in ahead of schedule. Particularly the zip that got sea water in from Kerala and won't shift without a series of curses from me.
That Luang is the National Monument and the symbol of Laos as a nation.
I missed Laos when I was in Cambodia. Phnom Penh was such a hectic place and so terribly hot in June. Laos is a place to return to and has wrestled, with some ease, India from top spot in my eyes. China, and Dali in particular, was a great place and relaxed too. But the grief over getting the visa was very tough. I'm sure it would be easier getting the visa in your home country. Chinese people though friendly are unused to westerners and are shy. To find an English speaker is a cause for celebration there. So back to Laos for now. And Vientiane which I seem to like very much.
Reclining Buddha at the That Luang complex
Young Lao woman
Thing is about this place is if you are not careful one can become extremely emotional. The people are so astonishingly beautiful and live on peanuts. Rephrase. Because they do actually live on peanuts. Have such little money. Live on fumes. Grilling dried squid over burning coals they carry around the riverside. Or carrying out mobile manicures on park benches.
Poor Laos. With a tiny population of 6.5 million but landlocked and surrounded by big neighbours, China, Thailand, Vietnam. Laos has its hat on the pavement. Hopeful of all and any aid.
Crinkle, crinkle. The sound of a young woman (white blouse, mauve silk skirt) with a cart of bagged crisps outside a multinational pizza company at 9pm. Alone. Crisps. She. Twenty years old.
It's a pity you cannot see this image in greater detail but the framework doesn't allow for that. This image is very gratifying somehow. Rich, appealing, colourful.
Mini shrine sitting by the Mekong river.
It might be to help the fishing people who work the inlet you see in the background. It was forty degrees out there. Several kilometres out of Vientiane on a bicyle.
At the Garden Centre
Next post: Saigon at last