Dokodemo Door!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Journey to Laos #1

Ok, at long last, I figured it was time for a blog update. In February, I headed down to Laos for five days. I went there to give a few presentations about computer keyboarding in an ESL context, but it was also a good chance for me to check the place out.

I mainly spent my time in and around Vientiane, the capital. Getting there involved an unexpected snag: I was supposed to go via Hanoi but my plane was delayed for 6 hours at Osaka. As a result, I had an unexpected one night stay outside of Hanoi. I thought getting through the place was going to be a minor disaster, but Vietnam Airlines handled all of the arrangements and it all went a lot smoother than I thought it would. So I arrived at my destination about half a day late. Here's a typical street scene in Vientiane:

That morning at my hotel, I was met by a group of English students from Lao National University; they were tasked with showing me around town. We went by tuk-tuk, of course-- how else would we go?

First stop of the day was Pha That Luang, the national symbol of Laos. It  had been repeatedly destroyed and re-built in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

After that, we visited Patuxay, the victory gate of Vientiane, which was built in the 1960s. It was less impressive up close, but you're allowed to climb up to the top level for a view of the city.

After lunch, we hit the Haw Phra Kaew museum. It's located in a former temple which originally housed a relic called the Emerald Buddha (which is not made of emerald) that was stolen by the Thais in the 1770s and is currently on display in some temple in Bangkok. The Haw Phra Kaew museum contains a collection of religious relics-- offering bowls and Buddha statuettes and the like-- that we were not allowed to photograph.

Next-up: a home-stay in rural Laos!