We arranged for a truck to take us from Vang Vieng to Vientiane, in order to visit The Thai Embassy in Vientiane, Laos. We heard the road was terrible for the 155 miles south, and didn't feel like eating dust and going slow the entire way. We were on our way to the Thai Embassy in Vientiane, to get our Visas for Thailand. We decided to skip the southern part of Laos and head to Thailand instead after speaking with a Thai soldier who we met in Northern Laos and then again in Vang Vieng at a motorbike shop where I was getting some welding done on my bike.
Bus Station Wrangling In Vang Vieng
Bus Station Shenanigans
After picking up some delicious chicken sandwiches from a street vendor, we arrived at the bus station where we could hire a truck to take us to Vientiane. I had spoken with a guy the day before and was quoted 235,000 kip. I called him in the morning and met him at the bus station. The price was suddenly 300,000. Then shortly after that, was raised to 400,000. Our initial, principle based decision, was to find another truck. We didn't like the switcharoo he had pulled, claiming language difficulties as an excuse.
All We Are Is Dust In The Wind
After speaking with someone else, we were told that it would just be ours and our bikes without picking up passengers. We agreed and hired the Toyota truck with two bench seats in the back and a metal roof BY OURSELVES. We loaded up the bikes and were told it would be 4 hours. It was still extremely dusty in the back, but we listened to our ipods and bumped around for the next 4 hours and making great time. We did however pick a few passengers along the way, but we shrugged it off, and let him know after the 4th person he had picked up, that he was it!
Hotel Searching In Vientiane
We arrived in Vientiane (the Lao Capital), unloaded the bikes, suited them up with our baggage and drove the rest of the way (6km into town) When we asked why we hadn't been taken the full way, we were told that they didn't have a "taxi license" in the city of Vientiane and had to drop off outside of town. We begrudgingly agreed and biked our way into town. We decided to go near the Mekong River and find a place to stay. We found a place and they saw Buddha and told us we couldn't stay there. So we biked our dust-caked selves over to another hotel, which was a bit pricier at 25 dollars a night. It was a nice clean room and we agreed and settled in.
Death Warms Over
That night I woke up no less than 5 times with terrible stomach cramps and nausea. The Indian food we had for dinner earlier, sat in my throat unwilling to move. It was pretty miserable. The next day I didn't eat, or drink anything and pretty much slept the entire day. Exhausted and cramping in my stomach, I felt as if death was at the door.
Shelly kept busy taking Buddha the park and eating at local restaurants. Little to no water on a dusty trail to Vientiane from Vang Vieng could have seriously dehydrated me. It might have been the chicken sandwich I bought on the street with mayo that wasn't eaten until hours later after we stopped. Maybe I was poisoned? Who knows! With little to no water, and only soda with dinner, coupled with the feeling that the food I had eaten was still in my stomach, made me realize I was definitely not digesting. I started to pound water the best I could, took the stool softener, and drank some coconut juice Shelly picked up for me. It was 48 hours of feeling very sick. The sickest I have been in a long time.
Thai Consulate / Embassy in Vientiane
The Thai Embassy in Vientiane
The next morning I felt much better, and we went to the Thai Consulate for our Visas. We get there and meet two Brits by the name Tasha and Danny. They are a couple from Leeds, England who are much like us and traveling the world. They escorted us through the THOROUGH process of getting a visa for Thailand and really made the whole process easier for us as they had already made all the mistakes and were frustrated. We benefited from their mistakes and were able get our Visa applications with little headaches. We finally got done, and met another Brit named Kish who lives in Thailand and had to renew his working visa. They suggested going to a rooftop bar/restaurant on the waterfront and set a time for 7:30pm.
The Boys at the Bar
and The Girls
Meeting Up With Friends
Shelly and I were driving around in the evening looking for a place to eat and we saw the rooftop bar. It was about 7:30 and we decided to get a bite to eat. We were there a few minutes and sat down. Danny and Tasha came over and met us, we had dinner and Kish showed up. We sat and laughed and talked until midnight, then ended up going to the only nightclub in Vientiane Open past 12 midnight which was called Don Chan Palace. It was a Southeast Asia, typical night club and we sat some longer hanging out having a great time! We parted ways, and agreed we would meet back up the next day to get our visas. (they take 1 day to process)
Getting Our Thai Visas
We arrived today at 12 noon to pickup our visas and passports when the doors opened at 1pm. When we arrived there was Danny and Tasha standing in line with only a couple of people in front of them. We line ditched and joined in the sunbaked day standing in little shade for the next hour. It was near 90 today and the sun blazed as we sweat, waiting. We got through the gates, got our tickets, numbers 7 and 8! We then picked up our passports with our new Thai Visas!!! So tomorrow we go to Thailand!
Patuxai - Victory Gate in Vientiane
Sightseeing In Vientiane
While at the embassy we invited Danny and Tasha to go motorbiking around town. They had some things to take care of met us back up at our hotel room around 2:30. We find that they don't know how to ride motorbikes, and we offered to ride them around. They were a little hesitant at first and finally decided to hop on and go around town.
The afternoon was great. I put Danny on the back of my bike and Tasha rode with Shelly on her bike. We stopped at an Indian place and had a great meal of curries and masala. Then went exploring. There is a mini-Arc de Triomphe in Vientiane that looks very old, but was built in the 1950s and 60s. We stopped and took pictures and sat by a fountain and hung out a while snapping pictures. We told Danny and Tasha that they really need to get some bikes and learn to ride to really enjoy a city.
Learning to Ride Motorbikes
Teaching Danny and Tasha How to Ride
Sometimes when you are on foot, you really only see about 10 square blocks from your hotel. Tuk-Tuks, taxis etc, are expensive. I offered to teach Danny how to ride. We stopped off in a parking lot, and I taught him the basics of stopping and turning. I put my flip-flops out and had him doing figure 8s around them. The picked it up really fast and did great! Tasha tried too, but will need some more practice. (she hasn't even learned to ride a bicycle) So considering all, she did really well. We then headed out to a monastery that we could see off in the distance with a huge monument of some sort.
It was sunset and the Monastery was backlit. It was amazingly beautiful. We stood and took pictures and talked some more, then went to a Vietnamese Place for some coffee and drinks. It was great sitting with these two talking like friends would who knew each other for years. We realized we will be in Bangkok around the same time at Christmas, and agreed to hook back up. Kish lives in Bangkok and we have already set a time to meet up with him so he can show us around town.
Saying Goodbye to great friends
Saying Goodbye To Great Friends
The rest of the evening we went to dinner and sat around our place on Facebook adding each other. We love the friends we meet along the way, and almost marvel at how fun it is to simply relax and enjoy another person's company who are virtually complete strangers. Danny and Tasha were grateful for us teaching them how to ride and they can't wait to get to Pattaya in Thailand to rent a bike and explore! I think we might have talked them into going to Hanoi at one point to teach English. A great day and stay at Vientiane.
Vientiane is a great city with tons to see and do. It's a transit point for people going into Thailand as well. The sidewalk cafes and excellent weather top it all off. Great time in Vientiane, but we are ready to set sail for Thailand. I believe our plan is to stay in Bangkok for Christmas until Dec 26-27th and then head to Koh Chang in the Gulf of Thailand for New Years. Do some SCUBA diving and head to Angkor Wat in Cambodia in the first week of Jan.