akujunkan: (Default)
To commemorate my last day in the country. ::clickity:: )

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
It's official, my love affair with this country is complete and everlasting.

Good morning, Laos. )

Then to Vientaine. I arrived in time to snag a room at a the guesthouse I wanted while simultaneously avoiding a government airport scam (I'd learned my lesson in Luang Prabang). Serendipitously, the taxi driver I hailed is good friends with the guesthouse proprietor, so I snagged a discount ride back to the airport tomorrow.

I had enough time to visit two former Wats this afternoon. The first was the lovely Haw Pra Keuw, which houses more fascinating architecture and Butsuzou than I have time to recount. Lonely Planet says it sucks, once again proving that Lonely Planet often sucks.

Afterwards I visited Wat Sisaket. )

On the importance of proper dress and demeanour, 21st century style. )

I'm already planning my next visit.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
Which is my favorite Southeast Asian country, hands down.

I slept in until two pm (whoops), and then decided to head out to see some temples. A novice monk came to talk to me at the first one I visited, which was on a mountainside near the city. He had really good English, which was amazing, because he'd apparently never left the city, let alone studied abroad.

Cooler yet, it turned out he was studying Japanese, so I spent the next three hours giving him a Japanese lesson in the pagoda on top of this mountain, with a nice view of the Mekong river below us. I mean, seriously, does life get much better than that?

Then I headed back down the mountain in time to visit Vat Xieng Thong, which used to be the royal temple when Luang Prabang was still the capital city of the Kingdom of Laos. Its grounds were amazing and included this awesome statue of a reclining Buddha and the funerary boat of the former kings.

After that I wandered into another temple next door in time to catch the monks doing their evening chants.

And now I'm off to pay and head out onto the street in order to attempt a photo of the two monks who just walked in here to use the Internet.

That will be all.
akujunkan: (Default)
Let me start by saying that a certain widely popular travel guide franchise desperately needs to update its Laos title. Given their description, I'd expected net connectivity here to consist of someone on a rotary telephone dictating zeros and ones to me, yet here I am on broadband connection that's faster than the ones I used in Thailand. For shame, Lonely Planet!

Yesterday was truly surreal. Went to sleep at about two o'clock to the sounds of the roosters crowing in the powerlines (yes, they can apparently get up there. Who knew?) after a futile attempt to figure out whether or not the airport would be open tomorrow.

Ironically, it was the foreign population of Bangkok who knew about the coup first, given the fact that we all tend to be up at midnight. My driver to the airport (who I'd hired the day before), was pretty stunned--he hadn't found out till he'd woken up and got out onto the streets.

Which were pretty much deserted--pretty unnerving when you're used to the insane round the clock bustle of Bangkok. Had a really charming conversation with him about how to say 'coup' in English, and the meaning of the word. (He thought, for instance, that d'etat was some sort of abbreviation of demonstration, and wanted to know what the "etat" meant.)

Of course, had to drive right past--or rather, around--all the avenues blocked off by soldiers and tanks. The soldiers actually looked quite festive (disregarding the automatic weapons), as they were decked out in jasmine garlands and yellow ribbons and carnations (the colors of the Thai royalty).

"Take pictures, take pictures!" gleeful Mr. Driver kept urging me; I however, felt that photographing tanks from the back of a taxi during the early stages of a coup might not be such a great idea. I did get a quick shot of a couple of grunts standing on a street corner, though.

Seeing that that tack had failed, Mr. Driver then rolled down the window so that I could shake hands with the soldiers. I chickend out and settled for waving.

Anyway, that was the fun bit. The not so fun bit was the part that every bank and business was (understandably) closed, which meant that I could neither eat breakfast nor exchange money.

Am a bit worried about the fact that the military dude apparently heading the coup says that democracy won't be established for a year, as I've got some more time in Bangkok before flying to Korea. Who knows? I may just end up stranded in Laos with it's vastly superior Internet connections.

That will be all.

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akujunkan

July 2014

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