June 10, 2005
Today the rain eased up so we decided to tour Vientiane's sites for the day. We started out walking to the Patuxai- Victory Monument which resembles Paris' Arc de Triomphe. The area was nicely landscaped and actually provided a nice place to sit and watch the traffic zip by us on both sides. From there we walked up to That Luang which is the most famous landmark of Vientiane. This monument was gorgeous and we had it all to ourselves.
Along the sides of the walls was a local artist's artwork so we got a free art show with our admission fee of a whopping 50 cents. We were really surprised that no other tourists were around, but just as we left a huge tour bus pulled up and we laughed at our good timing. Afterward we toured around the old market and grabbed a vegetarian buffet around the corner which was a great value at $3 for the both of us to eat as many stir fry dishes and spring rolls as possible. For dessert the owner offered us some melon which was covered in coconut milk. That was the best part of the meal for sure. So simple yet so tasty. From lunch we headed to the bus station to find a ride out to the Buddha Park. The tuk tuk drivers were pestering us like crazy and we almost gave up on the entire idea but stuck it out and found the right bus to board. You would think it would be easy as the buses have numbers on their sides but to confuse the heck out of everyone they also put numbers in their front windows which are the ones they use. Makes sense right? After about 25 minutes we arrived at that park. The park was created by one man's vision of combining Hindu and Buddist philosophies. Reading about the park it seemed as if it might be cheesy but it was actually very stunning and unique. The sculptures were very intricate and amusing at times.
On the bus back into town we stopped off at the Beer Lao factory in hopes of a tour and some free beer but we just missed the last tour. We consoled ourselves by having a great dinner and grabbing a pint of Haagen Dazs and heading back to our amazing $15 hotel room to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There are a lot of French expats in Vientiane so we found a grocery store which carried tons of Western food. We decided to splurge and picked up the ice cream and some Wheat Thins just to mix it up a bit. It's amazing the little things that remind you of your former life along the way.
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