Saturday, 24 January 2015


One of the cats that took a liking to Jackie

Hmm the capital, not sure what to think really, it’s OK, but really nothing special, still we will have had three nights here, but that’s just because everywhere south of here sounds a little dire!

Anyway, another good sunset in Vang Vieng before we left, with Olia (always introduces herself as Olga, but prefers to be called Olia). She had decided to stay another day in VV, wish we had really, but hey! 4 hours on quite a decent minibus, with one stop where there were two lovely young cats who just wanted to be fussed, so I was happy! I also found another mad cat lady – younger than me, but with a bag of cat biscuits secreted about her person!

The Presidential Palace, at one time the Kings Palace before the communist revolution in November 1975
The wide boulevard leading from the Presidential Palace to the Patuxay monument
Arrived at our Guesthouse which was pretty much as described, but our dark room, with no windows was a bit depressing! Glad we only booked one night as it means we’ve moved to the Mixay Paradise where Lyle, the Ozzie from the hotel in VV, who was on our bus, is staying before he heads off to Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia for a ten day break, although the room is miniscule it’s cheaper, it does have a window, breakfast is included, and I don’t feel I have to change the duvet cover as I did in the last one!

The Patuxay monument, said to resemble the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Nice view from the top back to the Presidential Palace
We had quite a busy day yesterday, going to the Patuxay monument, looks a bit like the Arc de Triomphe, except it was never really finished so is a bit of a grey concrete monstrosity! Good views from the top though. Then on to the ThatLuang Stupa which apparently has a piece of Buddha’s breastbone in not that you can see it, but the gold covered building is very impressive, as are the other buildings on the complex. 

And the view the other way
The That Luang Stupa
Back to the hotel via the COPE centre, one step on from the UXO centre in Luang Prabang, this one told you a bit about un-exploded ordnance but then also explained about the rehabilitation that is going on with provision of false legs, not just for UXO victims but also those who were born with club feet, or that have suffered motorbike accidents for example. Much more positive, but not as shocking as the information centre in LP, well worth a visit though. All in all we walked a long way, in the heat, oh yes, remember what it’s like to be warm now, never happy are we!

The superb temple on the That Luang Stupa complex
Inside the temple
Met up with Olia in the evening, we rescued her from her prison cell of a room, also with no windows, we thought we were going to book her in with us, but she was too self sufficient and sorted herself out! Had a lovely meal, very moist fish cooked in salt, and chicken noodles and morning glory, doesn’t sound exciting, but all absolutely delicious. We’d looked at the huge night market the previous evening so toddled off home to bed.

Reclining Buddha on the same site
The Stupa
Bumped into Olia this morning so we all went off to the museum together, she’s heading off tonight on the 24 hour bus journey to Hanoi, and we are thinking we could have gone to Tha Khek today at 12 noon rather than tomorrow, but too late for that. Still I’m looking forward to a highly recommended pizza tonight!

The Revolution Monument, situated opposite the Communist Party building. Installed after the revolution of November 1975 with Vietnamese backing. The King abdicated on 2nd December 1975, ending 650 years of the monarchy, causing an exit of royalists and educated elite to Thailand, setting the country back a generation. The party is still in power, but now calls itself a Socialist Republic and its market reforms along with its massive hydro-electric dam power generation programme, along with tourism are gradually improving the economy
Prosthetic limbs on display in the COPE centre showing, along with the searching and removal of UXO, the great work they are doing there
Model showing how a cluster bomb works. The complete bomb is dropped from the aircraft, small charges blow the casing into halves (you can see the two halves near the top of the picture), releasing 200 or so small bombs that explode over a huge area, giving the term carpet bombing. Over 580,000 bombing missions were carried out over Laos over 9 years, with an unknown quantity of bombs dropped on each occasion with 200 or so small bombs in each one, of which 30% failed to explode. Each small bomb fits into a hand, making them easy to pick up by children, where they often explode. The people are watching a graphic video. The ironic conclusion of US involvement in SE Asia to prevent the spread of communism was that it caused the spread to Laos and Cambodia, without which it may have not have occurred. Their involvement caused the very thing they were intent on preventing.

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