2. January 2018 09:01
by Rene Pallesen

Vientiane - Laos

2. January 2018 09:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Vientiane is no longer the sleepy capital city it used to be. It is hustling and bustling with peopl
Vientiane is no longer the sleepy capital city it used to be. It is hustling and bustling with people, cars, motorbikes and shops everywhere.

The once neglected colonial buildings have all been renovated and the red dust flying everywhere is long gone as the roads have been paved. In the outskirts of the city high-rise office towers have started shooting up and I think that given another decade this city will look like any other East Asian capital.

The most striking difference was the banks of the Mekong River. Last time I was there it was really just a dirty path and following it north long enough there would be a string of wooden shacks with local restaurants that would serve some beautiful local dishes, fish and other seafood.
The water then would come right up to the bank and the boats could pull up and during the day the local kids would jump from the trees and swim in the river.
The old path has been replaced by a modern walk way (which actually is really nice) and the shacks have been replaced by some bars closer to the centre catering more for a western clientel - still with some nice seafood on the menu. The water of the Mekon has receeded and there is now a massive sand bank moving the river 2-300 meter back from the city.

Although Vientiane doesn't have a massive amount of things to see, it is definitely worth a visit. The Wats are beautiful and the vertical runway (local Arc de Triumpe - called so because they used cement intended for building an airport) is worth the climb to get a view of the city (and the main road which used to be the only paved road). There is certainly plenty to do for a couple of days.

About 100 meters from the Arc down a side street we had what was probably the best noodle soup of the whole trip. It was just a local mum, dad and grandma run place and it met the critia of being busy having locals eating there which means that it is likely that the food is good and relative fresh.

Even with it being in the middle of the city there was no access to gas or running water, so everything was cooked over wood fired stoves with the broth for the soups likely cooking overnight and the rest cooked fresh on the spot.

On the first afternoon we were sitting in a local coffee place and I started speaking to the girl working there. I asked her for local places to eat great authentic Lao food - not touristy. She recommended a place up neat That Dam (the black stuba) called Soukvinam and she showed me some photos. It looked more like a fine dining place, but the food looked delicious so we decided to give it a go.

It was a quiet place with a nice ambience. We were sitting outside in the courtyard which was ideal with the kids. We ordered a lot of food sticking to specialties we had never tried before such as stuffed frogs, fermented fish eggs etc. and it was all really nice.

By Lao standards it probably wasn't cheap, but for the whole group of us the entire meal ended up costing approximately $100 AUD. On that 'note' it is easy to be an instant millionaire as a foreigner in Laos - change $150 Australian dollars you are there.

We also celebrated New Years Even in Vientiane which was fairly low key with a couple of late night drinks.

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