Today we woke up at 7am and showered and changed, before heading down to the ground floor as todays breakfast was included. It was a mixture of styles that we have come used to, so egg, bread, noodles, friends rice, and a few other things. As usual it’s decent and filling, though nothing special, and after that it was back to the rooms to relax for a bit as we weren’t meeting as a group till 8.30am.
Once we all met, we went on another walking tour of the town, but this time more in-depth, as Saly joined us for this one. First we hit up a local Stupa called That Dam, which Mollidy and myself thought was an awesome name, and then after that it was the Presidential Palace. We then walked down the road which lead us to the Victory Monument, which was a mixture of French and Laos styles, so just think of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but with an Asian twist.
It was a cool place to visit, and you could climb to the top for some nice views of the city, though really Vientien is still many years away form being a genuine major Indo China city like Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh, or Hanoi. The group then left Saly, as it had been a two hour tour by this point, and we jumped on Jumbos, which are basically large Tuk Tuks, and with 6 people on each, we headed to COPE, where we would learn more about Laos and the massive bomb problem they have.
COPE was a pretty cool place, and here they help everyone from kids with club foot, people who have lost limbs from accidents, but mainly it’s set up to help all the people who have been injured by the millions of unexploded bombs in the country. During the Vietnam war hundreds of millions of bombs were dropped on Laos in secret, which is why it was called the secrete war, and those 9 years of bombing badly affected the country then, and still do today.
Roughly 30% of all bombs dropped didn’t explode, so the country is littered with them, and even today 200 to 300 people die annually from these bombs, and 13,000 in total since the bombing stopped in the mid 70s. We got to watch a documentary about it which was really good, and all up it was a really good thing to see, as really I still know nothing about Laos, and going to these kind of things really help.
After seeing COPE we headed off for lunch in a local mall that had a food court, and that was just ok. The group then went their separate ways, and Mollidy and myself decided to head back to the hotel as we were pretty tired. We got back there around 2pm, had showers and naps, and then at about 6.30pm we headed back to the waterfront for dinner.
We’ve been having Indian in each country, as we really do love the food, and we had seen a few the night before, so we looked again and found the one we liked, and had ourselves a damn good curry. After that we looked through the market and bought a few things, and then it was time for hour long foot massages, for the massive price of about $5.50US. With the clock striking 10pm, and the market starting to close once we left the massage place, we knew it was time to head back to the hotel for bed.
One thing I wanted to touch on today is the bathrooms in Indo China, as they really do range from the simply horrible to the just ok, with the odd good one thrown in for good measure. But the main thing, which is my biggest issue being a guy as I don’t have to worry about the squat toilets and conditions really, is the smell. Some hotel bathrooms just smell mouldy, or just have something odd about it, and some of the local ones just simply smell horrible. I can easily block out the visual issues, but the smell is another matter. So just prepare yourself for some possible assaults to the nostrils during your stay.