Vientian – Capital City

Along Laos’ highways are milestones marking the distance to the next places. The actual place may vary–the next village, or a major place further afar. When trying to make out the distance to Vientiane while on the bus I could never find “Vientiane” on the milestones…until one time we hat slowed down sufficiently for me to read one of the milestones saying “Capital City”. Apparently this is what Laos would like visitors to think of it. Reminds me of old pre-reunification signposts on Eastern Germany’s highways, reading “Berlin, Hauptstadt der DDR”.

We’ve planned two and a half days in Vientiane, fairly many given our generally tight schedule–it’s about as much as we had in Hanoi. We thought it would be worth it. It wasn’t. But there are good coffee bars… Continue reading Vientian – Capital City

Phonsavan – Plain of Jars

We knew it before arrival: Phonsavan is not the most beautiful of cities. We couldn’t know that it would be so boring that the first thing we looked for was the fastest way out…and even accepted yet another night bus, simply because the next flight out of this incarnation of boredom was two days later only. In our original itinerary Phonsavan occupied three days: One day of bus travel from Luang Prabang to get there (that still took place on 30-AUG), one day for visiting the Plain of Jars (the main and for most tourists only reason you get here at all, 31-AUG), and one day to travel on to Vientiane. With the night bus option we could save that travel day and made it instead a travel night. Continue reading Phonsavan – Plain of Jars

Luang Prabang – Alms Giving, Pac Ou Caves, Mega-Wat

Alms Giving

The Alms Giving procession is part of Luang Prabang’s daily life (and actually of the life anywhere in buddhist countries). Here it is so photogenic and attracts tourists every day due to the many wats around, housing so many monks. And the monks live off alms given to them every morning by the locals. The locals kneel on the pavement along the streets (staying lower than the monks!), the monks pass by and open their jars for the locals to put in some food (mostly a small ball of sticky rice, but also cookies or whatever they feel like giving). Continue reading Luang Prabang – Alms Giving, Pac Ou Caves, Mega-Wat

Luang Prabang – Our Gate To Laos – Wat-Wanderung

Laos – Considered the country with the lowest development level in Southeast Asia. We haven’t been there before. And even before starting to travel we felt like we would go there only once. I write these lines in a western style cafe in Vientiane on our last day, only waiting away the time until our flight to Bangkok starts. And by now we know for sure: It was worth coming here! But once might indeed be enough for quite some time. And now we also know: Good that we started in Luang Prabang, which was by far the most beautiful, most tranquil, most inspiring place in Laos of those three that we have seen. I have select 24 photos just for the first day of walking around the town (calling it “city” would be slightly exaggerated). And there are two more days in Luang Prabang to come… Continue reading Luang Prabang – Our Gate To Laos – Wat-Wanderung

Halong Bay

Halong Bay…that sounds like the vacation within the vacation that we–despite “only” two weeks on the road so far–believed we deserved already. In the pursuit of seeing as much as possible our schedules are sometimes a bit cramped and time for relaxation scarce. So we opted for a comparably highly priced version of this two-days-one-night trip to Halong Bay, that you can buy at any other street corner in Hanoi. The boat itself kept its promises. But unfortunately the service did not live up to the same standards. Continue reading Halong Bay

Hoa Lu & Something around Perfume Pagoda

It was mainly for convenience and time saving reasons that we treated ourselves to a private driver today, so that we could combine the 60+ kilometer distance from Ninh Binh to Hanoi with two sightseeing stops on the way. Hoa Lu was not that far away from the hotel. Could be done by bike, but was in the same direction. And the Perfume Pagoda is something I had left out two years ago as I was running out of time. It receives top reviews, but is a site far out of Hanoi (or any other major city, that is), so it is a day tour from anywhere anyway. Continue reading Hoa Lu & Something around Perfume Pagoda

Ninh Binh – Dry Halong Bay by Boat

21-AUG. Ninh Binh was new to me, but I was looking forward to it for it promising to present “Halong Bay on the Land”, ie. the same kind of limestone formations, just not surrounded by water, but by land. And LP recommended going by bicycle, another detail I liked. Probably a bit like YangShuo, I hoped. And so it was…just…well…we needed to get there. Continue reading Ninh Binh – Dry Halong Bay by Boat

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