Monday, December 30, 2013

Bellus Floriforem

I've never been one to take photos of flowers but when I traveled to Laos I couldn't resist. I was simply struck by the colors and variety of them that I'd see all over town in random places. Here's a collage of some of them.

2013 December Laos Trip - Collage of Flower pictures
2013 December Laos Trip - Flowers.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Final Day in Laos

December 19th 2013 was my final day in Laos.  I meant to write a final post from Laos.  But I resisted in part because I felt a bit sad in having to do so.

Final days in Laos were rather busy.  Last minute browsing and hanging out, taking in all I could. Hanging out with friends and family, lots of last minute invites.  The sukuan ceremony was wonderful and the food and drinking was filling.  I've had my fill of alcohol namely because of BeerLao.

Finally, family and friends brought me to the airport for final goodbyes.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Number of Bookstores in Vientiane

As a bookworm, when I travel I become a bit of a literary tourist seeking out any and all bookstores. Just for the record, I've visited 13 bookstores here in Vientiane. This is up from maybe 6 or so booksellers ten years ago.

Could be more out there I haven't discovered yet...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Too Cool for Shorts?

Been here since beginning of December. Last night was the first rainfall since being in Laos. Made for very windy and cool day. Unfortunately I brought mostly shorts with me.

Talat Sao vs. Talat Kuadin

Talat Sao is a fun place to browse. But to find even better deals consider Talat Kuadin which is at ground level and it surrounds Talat Sao. It's busy and hot but it can be worth it. As an example, I bought costume jewlery which at Talat Sao they were initially asking for 80-100,000 kip. Talat Kuadin initial asking price 28,000 kip.

Vientiane Nightlife

Even though most establishments close by 10ish-11, turns out Vientiane has quite a night life. In particular the restaurants that have live bands playing. I've been to 4 places already and they never disappoint (food and entertainment wise). The musicians/singers are so talented singing in Lao then in English.

Calendars Galore

Correction: Found more calendars made by not only BeerLao but BCEL, Lao Telecom and even Phouvong Jewelry Store. Morning market proved to a good place to find these.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Animal Noise Battle Royale

Bizarre Lao animal behavior. Last night at 1am I was awaken by one dog's barking which lead to other dogs joining in which lead to roosters to start cockadoddling. It was like a noise battle. Grrr...

Traffic Police Nowadays

In Vientiane: Traffic police aren't so much of an issue as I last remember. The only police checks I've seen are late at night to check for drunk driving.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

About Shopping in Laos...

Learned something new about shopping in a typical market in Laos. Unless you're prepared to buy, don't touch or inquire about the product. If you do, the vendors assume you're prepared to not just negotiate but to buy.

Also don't be guilted into buying.

BeerLao Calendar

Scored a BeerLao calendar! They're not as widely available as one would think. In fact they're not really sold to the public. It's a rather large calendar. Has gorgeous pics!

I'll post pictures eventually but just thought I'd share the news.

The Market at the Mittaphap Lao-Thai Bridge

At the Mittaphap Lao-Thai Bridge, on the Lao side today, there's a large duty free shop. It's pretty but kind of pricey. Instead checkout the surrounding smaller vendors where they have much better deals.

Finding lots of cheap cigarrettes, cheap alcohol, not to mention namebrand imitation clothes, cologne/perfume, and bags. Gets quite busy in the afternoons with Thais and other foreigners here for deals.

Monday, December 9, 2013

When in Laos, Eat Lao Food

When in Laos take the time to enjoy classics of Lao food. It's well priced and delish.

Lap, naem, kow piak sin, bpeeng ba, jeun yaw, pun yaw kow, fer, seen joum, seen dat, mee ka tee, etc. along with some BeerLao. Love it all!

Pains me to see people who travel to Laos only to go to foreign food restaurants.

Random Sighting

Random sighting. While at a local bookstore in Vientiane, I saw Grant Evans having a conversation in Lao with the store owner. Grant, an Aussie residing in Vientiane, has written many books on Laos.

Surprisingly, running into a lot of foreigners who are fluent in Lao.  Awesome to see.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hundreds of Buddhas

Yesterday I visited Vat Haw Pra Keo and Vat Sisaket.  Not much has changed in the 10 years since I was last here.  However at Vat Haw Pra Keo they had lots of examples of ancient stone slabs with different inscriptions in different scripts used throughout Lao history.  Amazing to see them in real life.

At Vat Sisaket where there are hundreds Buddha statues, an old English tourist asks "why does there need to be so many? Isn't one or two enough?"

lol

Ah Padek...

Ah yes the smell and taste of padek... lol. What to say? Padek is like the Black Sheep of the Lao flavoring family. It's smelly and looks gross but it always gets the job done and it'll always be around. Best thing to do is to get used to it and love it for what it is. ;-)

Some General Prices

Just fyi for those who might be interested in some of the prices I'm encountering.

VTE
Pho soup 15,000kip, naem 15,000k, medium sized luggage 500,000kip, nice mid level hotel room $35/night, motorbike rental 70-80,000kip, drive from Wattay Airport to downtown Vientiane 40,000kip, vte hobomap 25,000kip, money exchange is slightly better priced than in LP, fried spring rolls 9,000kip, bbq corn 5,000kip...

LP
By the way FYI, LP airport is serviced by expensive taxis and no tuk tuk for when you want to get out of the airport (ie 100,000kip) And 20,000kip to get into tourist sites were the standard.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Driving in Laos: Exhiliration vs. Fear

Driving the scooter in Vientiane. Some people say it's scary. I thought it was exhilarating! Hate all the big cars though. Drive safely out there!

Factoid: Laos still has one of the highest vehicle accident rates on a per capita basis in Asia. Eeek...

Old School

Drove past the old school I used to teach. I wonder how my students have progressed in life. They were the cutest and brightest little grade 1 students! All 16 of them.

Aggressive Sellers = Good Deals!

Notably at Talat Sao I have to admit the sellers are a lot more aggressive than I last remember. They're quite pushy but they're eager to sell so you can find awesome deals.  I was there to buy luggage.

Also checked out the night market along khem kong with my cousins. Most plentiful were women's clothing.

Exploring Vientiane After 10 Years

Vientiane is busy though it definitely has more things to do than compared to before. Admittedly it's not LP.

Rented a motor bike for 80,000 kip (for an automatic). Have gone all around town including That Luang, Patuxai, Talat Sao, Talat Nongdeuane, and of course to family/relatives.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Final Day in LP

Final morning in LP.  Feel like I will miss this place.  Did a final walk around LP. Ended up going up a different side of Phu Chomsi on the side of where the Buddha's Foot is. Not overly busy as not many know to come on this side. What an incredible view! And I didn't have to pay to gain access to this side! Spoke with nice monks there too.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Slow Boat up the Mekong River

Did the slow boat ride up to Pak Ou Caves. To be honest I was almost going to skip it. But several people recommended it.

Beautiful scenery on the ride up. Quite a sight to see all those old Buddhas inside the caves. There was a stop in between where there was a break for15 minutes in ban sang hai where lao lao and silk is made. The little town is one cute little market.

December Weather in LP

4th day in LP. High of 24 degrees (celsius), low of 16 generally speaking. Haven't had to use my air conditioning once yet in the guesthouse. Tip: December is really one of the best times weather-wise in Laos. But bring a jacket or pants for the morning. Might be chilly for some people. Though by 11am it is hot and sunny and sunny again.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stake Out of a Viewing Spot

Phu Chomsi has the best view of all of LP.  Tip: Go early to stake out a good spot (before 5pm). Loads of people go for the evening sunset and there's not a lot of room at the top.  And be ready for that hike up...It's a good exercise!

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

In LP:  Had some serious random conversations with locals. While they appreciate the business that comes with tourists, they confided that they're disheartened by disrespectful tourists.  But that stuff goes both ways right?

LP - The Little Town of Guesthouses

LP should be called the city of guesthouses and hotels. For a small town there's seems to be an over abundance of these 2 things.  Just an observation.

Timeless Vat Xieng Tong

Visited arguably one of LP's most famous temples, Vat Xieng Tong. And yes it lives up to the hipe! It's gorgeous. One of the buildings on the temple grounds houses old Buddhas, the golden chariot and 2 large urn-like structures, and carved ancient looking wood panels and frames. On top of all that, its walls are filled with scenes from a story and all made of colored glass pieces formed together into a mosaic.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

L'Etranger Books and Tea

In Luangprabang, one of the cutest and laid back places you can go for literature, food, and drinks is this place called L'Etranger Books and Tea on King Kitsarat road.

How Dare We Disturb Its Sleep

Laos is full of peculiar and funny sights. Was riding a taxi tuktuk and there was a dog sleeping on the road. It wasn't dead. But it refused to yield to any vehicles. Very unafraid. lol

Trees Grow Right Out of the Waterfalls!

Tat Sae Waterfalls. Imagine a forest just a wee bit up a mountain with trees. Now imagine blue clear multi-tiered water flowing threw it with trees still growing right out of the water. Gorgeous!

Also got to ride a playful elephant right into the shallow pools!

Kuang Si Falls Bright and Early

Tip: Good time to do Kuang Si Falls is before 10am. I was practically by myself when I got there at 9am. Got gorgeous shots unencumbered by any other tourists.

Explora Corridora

LP has lots of small roads and corridors off main streets. Don't dismiss them. Explore them! You'd be surprised at what you'll find. :-)  I've discovered different restaurants, little markets, temples, art galleries, to name but a few - that are all seemingly hidden from the main roads.

Lao Style Morning Alarms

Currently in Luangprabang. Woke up to roosters crowing and temple gongs...no need to set an alarm.

Visit to Laos December 2013


Laos Trip December 2013 cover picSabaidee everyone. There will be a slight delay and change in what we're posting this month of December. Lots going on. One of the main reasons is that we're traveling in Laos as of yesterday.

As such, our next bit of posts will be mainly regarding our time here. We hope you'll continue to follow us. :-)