Thursday, December 16, 2004

Vientiane, Laos

Well, the 160 km ride wasn't too bad. Newly paved road, lots of curves, and a few small hills. Wind coming in from the north, so generally a crosswind, but occasional head and tail winds - I was passing motorcycles when I headed down hill with a tail wind. Whee! Quite a desolate stretch of highway, with only sporadic villages consisting of huts on stilts. But they were nice huts with 4x4s and faux-thatch paneling. Lots of kids waving and yelling "sabadai" and "bye-bye". Very little traffic as well. I usually biked down the center of the lane.

Savanakhet seemed like a nice town, but I had no map so I was generally lost. Spoke to a couple young buddhist monks. Sounds like they've got the best education in the country - 15 subjects and classes from 8am - 8pm.

The bus from Savan to Vientiane was less exciting. The high point was when a rear tire blew and the bus filled with smoke.

Vientiane, like the rest of Laos, is quite laid back. You almost have to strain to here the tuk-tuk and moto drivers calling for you. One "no thanks" and they leave you alone. The people in the markets don't latch on to you, and at times seem almost unwilling to make a sell. A number of people are interested in just speaking English with you and not making a sell. I don't think I spoke with a single person in Vietnam who wasn't trying to sell me something.

So I'll probably spend one more day here, then bike to the Thai border and down to Udon Thani on the 17th (not sure what day that is, nor do I know what day today, the 15th, is). Then down to Khon Kaen where I'll catch a train to Ayutthay. A couple days there and then down to Bangkok. And finally head back to Chicago. That's the current plan, at least.

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