October 18, 2011 Wednesday Vientiane

Last night Val and I had a great meal in the hotel restaurant and were entertained by Lao music and traditional dancing, very, very graceful and extremely skillful. An art that has to be learnt from a very young age when fingers and joints can be trained to bend to unbelievable extremes.

It was Tuesday, we knew this because the lift told us (they change the carpet every day). Reminded us of that wonderful English TV show The Teachers- where you are told the day in various funny ways.

Again we were escorted to the lift by our guard of Generals, captains or whatever they were, the hotel is surrounded by armed guards, and we feel completely safe.

Today we were picked up at nine, by our guide, Mr Varasan (call me San), and taken on a tour of local temples, starting with Wat Sisaket. This temple, San explained, was the only one left intact after the Thai invasion in 1828. We finished the temple tour at a very special place for San. It was at That Luang, one of the holiest sites in Laos, that 12 year old San entered the monastery to later become a monk. He spent eight years there, leaving when he was twenty. This, he explained, is normal in Lao society. Laos is a very Buddhist country and it is usual for the boys to be sent to monasteries to become monks and gain a very good education, as well as achieving goodness. Some stay, others like San, leave and resume an ordinary life. Girls achieve goodness and are looked after by marriage.  I like Buddhist countries.  The people are so nice, probably because there are so many Generals!

We finished off the tour at the victory arch. We weren’t going to tell him that we had been there yesterday, but we couldn’t climb all those steps again, so we broke it to him gently and we headed to our restaurant, possibly the best in Laos, The Kaolao, for an unbelievable lunch.

Next was the Morning Market, you have to see this place to believe, it was almost unbelievable. You can buy anything here and the quality was, yes you guessed. San even checked out a nice gold necklace, he is saving up to get married- a very expensive business- makes you wonder why they bother!

On the way home we got him to drop us on the banks of the Mekong, well our driver did, I havn’t mentioned him because I can’t remember his name. Val and I checked out the un-big statue of the first King and then back home James! We aim to check out the dancing again, but a light meal this time because we’re busting!   See you later.

Author: @colinspain

The Official Blogger for Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise Group Tours

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