Monday, February 20, 2012

Lao or Laos - Vientiane

A friend asks me what manifests this travel, and i answer, "no se, i close my eyes and open the heart, and seeing happens"…

After spending four weeks in Chaing Mai, in Thailand, i sense that more time is needed here. My visa ends so like all tourists i have the option of doing a visa run to Burma or any other border. Burma is normally a day trip and you get 2 weeks of stay in Thailand. I decide that my flight out of Thailand requires a longer visa. Then again that is the logic or the trigger. Why i go, where i go, unfolds as always...

I am in Vientiane, "its a dead city", comments a friend...i come to this city. The overnight bus ride from Chiang Mai is luxury for me. Through many stops at all the 7/11s by the gas stations we arrive at the border town in Thailand, a short wait by the river as our passports are taken and we are given forms to fill for the exit and entry to Laos. I sense an organized process here, and switch to a large bus with other tourists to continue our journey. After another stop to deal with the immigration formalities its an effortless cross over to Laos.

I look out the window, absorbing the sights, its Asia, there is familiarity to the outer, and how can i ever know the inner process of the people living anywhere.

I choose to take a drop at the first stop in Vientiane. Mr. Wong, an english speaking young man, promises to take me to the right hotel, and also drive me to others, till I find what i like. He is to his promise, no haste or impatience do i sense in his energy. After checking out 2 places, i return to the first one. He waits patiently, while i check the room and happily brings my bag in. I pay him $6.00, an extra buck for his kindness.

The sounds of construction, by the wide parts of the Mekong, do no interrupt the peace. The sun feels strong and i take a long walk. I rest under a tree, close my eyes and drift off. The earth feels comforting to my aching back, the sun filters through the leaves, my music is soothing. Rested i decide to continue, find an Indian restaurant called Fatimah, the owner is from Pondicherry, the masala chai in a large glass mug is exactly what i need. I chat with him and his son, eat an omlette and plain roti; chat with the French guy on the next table who is also on a visa run, he and his wife sell clothes at the Sunday Market in Chiang Mai. I also receive enough information to decide on my mode of transport to Lang Prabang. I book a flight for $84 from Vientiane to Lang Prabang for the 22nd.

The evening: I indulge in a hot compress, the one I took at the old medicine hospital did wonders for the back...this one is different, with cold air blowing on me, and the touch of not so gentle girl, i survive. I feel great later, and walk up to the corner store to buy some stuff. it feels like home. is earth not the same….the Thai people love to say "same same, but different"…i get it!!!

Laos is a single-party socialist republic.

"Stone tools discovered in northern Laos attest to the presence of hunter-gatherers from at least 40,000 years ago. Archeological evidence suggests agriculturist society developed during the 4th millennia B.C.. Burial jars and other kinds of sepulchers suggest a complex society in which bronze objects appeared around 1500 B.C., and iron tools were known from 700 B.C. The proto-historic period is characterized by contact with Chinese and Indian civilizations. From the fourth to the eighth century, communities along the Mekong River began to form into townships, or Muang as they were called." ~wiki~

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