Before I arrived in Vientiane I had talked to at least three people who had expressed their disapoinment with the capital city of Lao. To sum up their reviews: it’s boring, nothing to see and very busy. Big cities have never been my cup of tea and I was considering skipping it and heading straight for the south. However the dry air was taking it’s toll on my hair and I couldn’t find coconut oil anywhere ( I went on a serious hunt in Vang Vieng and found nada). Not wanting continue my trip with Einsteins hairdo I knew if there was one place to get a hold of coconut oil, it would be in Vientiane. And getting a glimpse of the city would be an added bonus.
Getting from Vang Vieng to Vientiane is fairly easy. You can purchase a ticket at any hostel and they are all around the same price, 50 000 kipp. It takes about 4 hours and is a pretty smooth ride.
While driving in to the city centre of Vientiane, a libanese resturant caught my eye and instantely put a smile on my face. I memorized the directions to get there from the bus stop and managed to track it down. Once I got there it was closed ( oh the disapoinment!). Across the street was a hostel called “My box”. My box is very clean and clearly a top notch hostel compared to other ones so I asked for a bed.
After checking in, while writing in my journal outside the hostel, a woman sat down on the availble seat in front of me. She had just bought some local sweets and were trying it out for the first time. She told me that everytime she tries something new to eat it helps if someone pinches her earlobe and asked if I could do that. Sure, no problem and I did it. It seemed like it worked beacuse she had no issues eating the sweets 🙂 We started chatting away. Her life story is without a doubt one of the most interesting ones I’ve heard! I won’t go much into details right now but I’m sure she will appear on this blog in the future (yes, that’s a teaser). Her name is Khadyja, she’s american (no connection to islam or the middle east). She ended up in Lao looking for a dance teacher she had when she was younger. This dance teacher has a special place in Khadyjas heart, providing attention, time and energy at a time where it was needed . I really hope she finds her! The last thing I heard was that a radio station is going to broadcast a seach for her. Fingers crossed!
The following day me and Khadyja went for breakfast and dinner and the delicous libanese place. We talked about everything you can imagine! Family issues, relationships, traveling and everything in between. She was later that night going to see a Lao performance and I tagged along.
We got to a white buildning and inside was a resturant where the staff was wearing fly attendant looking outfits . There was a small stage with a band of four people playing instrumants I’ve never seen before. The whole vibe was very relaxing. We ordered our drinks and waited for it to start.
Then, the lights were dimmed a bit and out came this beautiful women dancing to the bands music.
She was later accompanied by male dancer. A have a bad video clip of this just to get a hint of what this was.
So after the performance we wanted more. Khadyja asked one of the staff members were we could see more traditional dancing that evening. The woman gave the name of a place and told her that not only would we watch Lao dancing but also partcipate in it! We walked over there immediatly.
When we arrived we walked in to what looked like a night club. It was a dark bassment with a dance floor and couches surronding it. At the tables beside us were groups of men and women sitting together, all of them local. It was hard to ignore that the women were younger, wearing “sexy” wear and high heels. The men however were old enough to be their dads. In between drinks the women would get on the dance floor and line dance(!). I specifically remeber them doing this to the song “take me home, country roads” performed by a Lao singer. The women would then go back to their “men” and continue to socialize. Now and again a “couple ” would dance together on the dance floor. The woman acting a bit distant while the man was full on touchy touchy. Very disturbing.
One a good note though, there was a middle aged woman and man ( pretty sure they were a real couple) taking dancing to the next level at this place. It looked like their dancing was tango influenced or something. They were crushing it on the dancefloor! At one point the man lifted the woman up and span her around while everyone applauded.
I could at one point not stop laughing at the absurd situation. Both me and Khadyja could not understand why the hell the woman at the resurant would send us to this place. Ah well, we got a laugh out of it.
We walked back to the hostel and only a few metres from it is “earth bar”. A very chill place with cheap drinks and a nice mix of backpackers and locals. We decided to hang out there for a bit. This one guy from the hostel who was clearly intoxicated was the big finale of the night. He decided to drop his pants twice. He repeatidly commented on my nose telling me it looks egyptian and would not stop asking “what are you gonna do with your egyptian nose” and in the middle of a conversation he encouraged everybody to get their nipples out while he lifted his shirt….
The next day I simply went for a walk around town and chilled by the river.
I had done my reasech and the touristy things to do are these: Sunset at mekong river, the night market and a visit to the golden temple. It was way to cloudy to enjoy a sunset during the time I was there. I give the night market a big “meh”. There are nice things but quite pricy and obviously targeted towards tourists. No visist to the temple due to laziness and I’ve seen so many at this point that a nap seemed more tempting. My time in Vientiane was still great! One friend and a coconut oil jar richer I left the capital city to discover the south of Lao.