Vientiane, Laos

Another minibus, another drive between cities. After being dropped at the out of town bus station in Laos’ capital we jumped in a cramped shuttle with a bunch of other tourists from the minibus and were taken into town. Like a few others in the shuttle we hadn’t booked accommodation in advance, thinking we could wing it like we’d been able to so far. We didn’t count on it being a holiday weekend though.

We found a cheap room, good enough and even came with a small window; unlike a few of the others we’d looked at. It wasn’t the most comfortable place though so we decided to head out to the Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge 30km from town. Being a hot hot holiday day we were sufficiently overcharged for our trip out to the “resort” (my excellent haggling skills got us an aircon minivan for the same price as a tuk tuk though!). We hadn’t booked, again, because we weren’t able to get hold of anyone on the phone the day before. I almost died when we were initially told they had no room for us. Thankfully it was just a communication mix up with neither of us speaking the other’s language.

Rivertime’s floating restaurant and “pool”

Is it just me, or do you expect snakeless bathrooms, rooms without huge bugs crawling up through the sizable gaps in the floorboards, and actual showers when you hear the word resort? In an ecolodge in Laos you’d be wrong to expect that. One night in the 3 bed dorm with outside bathroom and I’d had enough. I paid the difference for the 3 of us to be moved to a room with an en suite just so I could go to the bathroom in the night and not have to bathe in the river.
During the day the lodge was lovely, green, and relaxing sitting in the floating restaurant. Once the sun went down it turned into a bugfest so bad I almost wanted to go home. It’s one of the 3 worst things I remember about the trip.

Anyway. A few days later I convinced the boys it was time to leave and we went back to Vientiane, and back to exactly the same room we’d had when we first arrived. 4 days till our flight to Hanoi was plenty enough time for me to be eaten alive by bedbugs. I’d never encountered the critters before so I just assumed I was covered in mosquito bites, which wasn’t an unreasonable assumption considering the state of my legs before we arrived in Vientiane. But by the last night I noticed the patterns of two and three bites and spent an uncomfortable night terrified I was going to see the bugs crawling all over me as I tried to sleep. Ugh.

So long and good riddance Vientiane.

The Mekong River border with Thailand

Patuxai – The Victory Gate monument in the centre of Vientiane. Built with funds and concrete given to Laos from America to build a new airport.

See all the Vientiane photos on Flickr