Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vientiane-The Capital Of Laos

The bus ride from Luang Prabang to Vientiane was another ride that was just beautiful.  It was quite, peaceful, and left at 5:30 to catch another amazing sunset.  I still can not get over the beauty when just sitting on the bus.  I usually stay up just to peek off into roads.  Cows kept coming in the middle of the roads, kids were having a bath on the street, families cooking dinner, a younger woman bathing in a well of water, and many selling produce or food items off their backs.  Their lives are all exposed through open huts and villages.  I cherish these bus moments and did not expect to love the commutes this much. 

We arrive at the bus station at 9:30pm and of course the tuk tuks are there waiting for tourist money.  Usually you buy the bus ticket and then you have to pay an extra $10,000 to get to the center of town.  These guys were charging $20,000.  I get onto the tuk tuk and another smart couple is trying to negotiate $10,000 per person as that is the usual price-any higher they are just wanting to profit from the tourist group.  I am smiling and negotiating $10,000 and he keeps laughing saying “$50,000 for you.   He is not budging so I decide to be Rosa Parks and get off the tuk tuk.

It is not about the money rather it is the principle of the matter that I will be charged extra for being a tourist and I will be smart and assertive.  He looked surprised and the nice, older couple looked proud of my decision. 
It was 10pm at night and as usual, it was pitched black on the streets.  The tuk tuks are trying to negotiate another cab for me  for $60,000 and I start laughing and walk away saying, “Bye bye-bye bye.”  Off I go into the darkness with no idea where the city center is except their directions of to the right, which basically when they give directions they just wave their arm and point in a direction that could be left or right.  Also, from my experience locals do not know the difference between left and right. It was like a "Who's on first, who's on second" bit where we just go back and forth between right and left and left and right.  They are waiving their arms like that indicates exactly where to go-it is quite funny, but definitely annoying when you really need to get somewhere! 

I was proud of my decision to walk as 95 percent of the time I walk, run, or bike and never take tuk tuks unless late at night from a train station.  As I begin to walk down the dusty, black road a motor bike pulls the side and says, “Where are you going?” I pulled out my couple pages of Vientiane and said “Wat sok temple.”  She says she will give me a ride as she is worried about me walking alone. 

As it turns out she just got off work and she is a masseur in the nearby area.  She is so sweet and introduced herself in such a lovely way.  "Hello, I Wan."  As she dropped me off, she passed me a business card and said to come by if I had sometime.  I wanted to give her business to return the favor as it was so nice of her to drive me and I did not even expect someone to stop for me. 

As I arrived in the Vientiane city center, I saw many temples, French, Lao restaurants, a few Japanese and Chinese as well.  The Chinatown area appeared a bit dirty, but Chinatowns seem to be dirty across the world. 

Walking into a couple expensive hostels, I stumble upon the Asian dormitory where the staff is super sweet and the room is surprisingly very clean with a few female backpackers staying there.  I sat outside and talked with the staff working there.  As we were talking, I saw a few girls wearing stilettos cruising by on the motor bikes. 

Johnny explains that many girls work in the restaurant/stores during the day and are “working girls” at night.  I saw a couple pretty girls pick up these two bald guys with Amish beards and big bellies, I rudely started laughing from a distance, but I could not believe what I was seeing.  These beautiful girls with these disgusting older men-gross. I hope it is worth the money for them. 

Good night working girls and good night I say to my buddy Johnny.  Johnny pulls out a mat in the lobby and sleeps with a huge mosquito net around him.  He is such a joyful person.  It is actually quite common to view staff sleeping in the lobby of the guest house or hostel.  Johnny is a student and lives in a village far from town therefore he sleeps in the hostel.  And Johnny seems quite content with it=)

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