Saturday, March 29, 2008

Vientiane, Vietnam – River? What river?

I arrived in the land of Laos feeling a bit more than disturbed.

It has been an awful morning, hectic almost. And it felt like a bad omen.

Laos is humid hot. HOT HOT HUMID HOT.

laos tuk tuk

vege vendor

I have been sweating inconsistently the second I stepped out of the glorious air-conditioned cabin of Airasia, oh how I miss the cabin right now.

Vientiane is again, like how I made assumptions of any other country, is not what I expected it to be. Rather than the third-world country I heard and perceived, it’s actually more developed than I expected it to be, though it is no where near a developed city, but with mini-mart, internet cafĂ© and money exchanger lingering at every corner of the street in the city; I’m pretty much pampered.

The street of Th Fa Ngum bustles with tourists and travellers from all walks of life, I spent my first night here, had my first meal beside the Mekong river, or what’s left of the river.

dried mekong river

It was soon that I realized the street contains some of the more expensive street-side food in Laos and miraculously as you walked further away from the area, things get cheaper. Amazing what tourism can do to a place, even if it is just 500 metres away from every other non-touristy street.

funny laos menu

Don’t get my wrong, Laos is cheap, but it’s more expensive than I expected it to be (mind note not to underestimate financial growth of another country).

Laos food is either very healthy, or very spicy. Or both.

spicy noodle and vegetables
This should be called spicy noodle in spicy sauce cooked in spicy seasonings and spicy vegetables. Not for the faint hearted.

It’s no wonder I have yet to spot an obese Laotian in sight. They should call Laos the thinnest country in the world, not France.

I love how they pronounce English here though. I remember reading this “must-visit” place called Phu Si in Luang Prabang on lonely planet. Phu Si land… ermm~~~

Or how this menu keeps misleading my innocent little mind…

whisky and cok
Anyone want whisky with Cock? I mean cok

chop pork
Paying money to see ppl chop pig?

funny menu names

funny menu names 2

This city depresses me for some reason. I can’t quite put it in words.

It could be the fact that the city bears centuries of different rulings and has been under the hands of many kings, once a powerful land beautiful named Land of a Million Elephants in the 17th century, now diminished to a city made up of semi beautiful sculptures and monuments and semi crumbled buildings.

me eating and posing at temple

oldest temple in Vientiane

worn down primary school
old primary school

The French even misspelled the original Lao as Laos during its last colonisation.

It could be something else that sets me in that mood. No matter.

Everything in Laos is transacted using US dollars or Kip, and ironically, the cheapest exchange rate you can find here is actually at the airport. So for those of you planning to visit Laos, remember to change most of your US currency in Kip at the Laos airport. RM1 is around 2700 Kip (USD 1 = 8740 Kip or 8735 in the city)

At night, the street is sprawled with vendors. The kaleidoscope of colours should not be missed.

vientiane night stall


It’s nice to see, but seriously.. why do I need a home light deco for?

lights deco

lights deco 3

lights deco 2

You will able to locate some local bars around the area where you find most foreign travellers gather.

night bistro

The most happening club however, and surprisingly, is opened by a Malaysian (so I heard), called the Mekong Deck.

mekong deck

Fancy little place, price of a bistro menu in Melaka.


  1. Hi Nicole

    I'm now busy preparing for my last exam of second year before proceeds to year 3 which is damn damn damn very important. But everytime when i read until sien i'll sure drop by your blog to relax myself n to inspire myself too,haha.Ur blog is very informative! Nicole,just ignore negative comments by those peoples n just go ahead. ha ha, take care! GO GO GO! God Bless.

    Mr Alan

  2. hope u r enjoyin ur time! =)

  3. keep it up gurl!So nice to hear on yr trip around the world...cant wait fer yer next entry!


  4. "It’s no wonder I have yet to spot an obese Laotian in sight. They should call Laos the thinnest country in the world, not France."

    My French friend also begs to differ!!!

  5. aiks...terpress enter...

    anyhoos!! enjoy your trip!!! jealouznya aku!

  6. beware. foreigners get kidnapped and ransom $ or ripped off; be careful if u travel outskirt of city to country sites. Normally they hire security or protection for tours. Many gangs are ex-military heads rside in the country side. Take care.

  7. Becareful especially if heading to remote places like the Plains of Jars or the area close to the Chinese border! Remember...that area is the heart of the drug trade, DONT simply take freebies from locals as they might drug u into the trade. The risk is even higher when the locals see u as a lone young female traveler. Just make sure not to offend the locals by bargaining to hard, if u r nice not to bargain too much they might even drop u a travel tip or two. Stay safe!

  8. Nicole, tell us more about transport, food, places of interest and the cost. So that next time we know how or what to do when we want to visit those places. Thanks. Good day!

  9. Good to hear from you again dear.

    Take care okay :)

  10. Oh wow.. I can use with one of those home light deco in my room! Nice~ :)

    btw, enjoy ur stay in Laos!

  11. Very adventurous !!!
    i nvr knew u were from Malacca too~

    the blog from Sipadan makes me wana go diving there now :D

    Take care up there and be safe !

  12. It's great to know that you're living your dreams! Way to go! Stay safe, have fun and live it to the fullest.

    If you plan to travel NZ, I've some itinerary, recommended places to visit and such, especially for the travels and road trips that I've been to. Hope it helps. ;p I can also bring you around if you come to Christchurch. ^^

    Have a great trip ahead! =)

  13. hahahahaha - WHiskey and Cok LOL! Thats gold!

  14. Good to see you on the road again. Nice article.

  15. Wow, you are such a lucky girl. If you fancy visiting states, I recommend Bryce canyon, just been there not long ago, and I would say it does look better than grand canyon!

  16. love love love the photos - especially the one with veges oh and the light deco ones... kudos for visiting places and helping me to learn more on geography hehe <3

  17. Hey girl,
    U said u were going to include me in your next trip..... =.=

    anyway. all the best in you conquering the world.

    when're you comin back msia? hvnt met you for a while. gimme a call then.


    damn. i hate commitments!

  18. Spicy food, my favourite. Give it to me anytime. Bird eye chili, jelapeno, mustard, and whatever spicy stuff.

  19. amazing, nicole. u're travelling again!

    man, i really admire u man! if only i have as much freedom/time/moolah as u do...

    oh well. dream on.

    enjoy ur trip! update us all!

  20. are u ok? in dark Hut?/ o.m.

  21. A can of coca cola costing RM2.2 is certainly not cheap.

  22. tourist paradise can mean paradise for tourists or paradise made up of tourists, depending on how u wanna see it.. :D