I touched down in Vientiane at 2 pm. The line at immigration was very long and I had to wait quite a bit. But when it was my turn I got through without problems and paid the $30 for the visa. At the airport I got a SIM card and some Kip in cash from the ATM before taking a cab to the Ali Backpacker. They have fixed prices so no chance to haggle; I paid 57000 Kip which is about 5,55€. The guy at reception was extremely unfriendly. I checked into my dorm. It was pretty smelly in there and the mattress was like a wooden board, very hard and uncomfortable. After a quick shower I started to explore my surrounding. I went to the sunset point at the Mekong, over the night market and to a more touristy part of the city. On my way back I had dinner in the restaurant of another hostel.
When I got up the next morning I realized we had bed bugs in our dorm. I was luckily not bitten, but most people on the other side of the dorm where and I also saw an actual bug. I had booked two nights there, but obviously I didn´t want to stay any longer and increase the chances of getting bitten or having them in my luggage. After breakfast I went down to get my money back for the second night and check out. I was expecting a big fight, but they were very cool about it and reimbursed my money without putting up any trouble. There was somebody else at reception though. I moved to the Khaw Hoom hostel. This is more expensive, but a really nice place. Very clean, no bed bugs, comfortable beds and each bed with a curtain, plug and lamp. Once I had settled in I went out to explore again.
I went to That Dam – an overgrown black pagoda.
From there to Patuxay. This is a kind of Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane.
There is also the World Peace Gong. I walked on
until I reached the Statue of King Sai Selthathirath,
Pat That Luang
and the Reclining Buddha
and from there back to the hostel. Took me over 4 hours, but was a nice walk. I rested a bit, secured pictures and had a shower. Then I took off to the night market where I met Hooman and his cousin – two guys from Iran. They were staying in my dorm at Ali and we have been talking quite long over breakfast and decided to do something together that evening. We had hot pot for dinner. Very delicious but also not the cheapest food you can have. Later we went to bar called Wind West. They had live music there, first just a solo female guitarist, followed by two different bands. They were all really good and we had a great time there. It got pretty late and since I had to get up early for my bus, it was a very short night. I had booked the bus at Ali´s so I had to get back to there in the morning. Hooman picked me up to help me with my luggage, very nice of him! The pick-up for the bus was 45 minutes late and the truck was so full that I had to stand in the back, basically hanging off the back of the truck. That was fun, a little adventure, so I loved it! Before we reached the bus, there were 3 more people coming and hanging off the back with me. They dropped us at the bus which was quite nice and comfortable. And off we went to Vang Vieng.
My first impression of Laos was not the very best. The people here are a lot more unfriendly than in Myanmar and they also try a lot more to rip you off when they can. I am also not the greatest fan of big cities, so I was hoping for it to get better.