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First days in Laos - Vientiane

Well, Vientiane is very nice - a smallish town which is easy to walk around, with easygoing people and no hassles. I haven't got time to write much, but here are a few photos.

Last night there was a Chinese opera playing by the river

Walking around I came across this sign and shrine (?) which I found kind of nice

I met some guys and we finished the night at the bowling alley, which is the only place that stays open after midnight, apart from the clubs maybe. It serves beer too which is an attraction, and we had a lot of those yesterday :-) There was a reminder of Laos' status as a socialist state

Today we took a walk to Pha That Luang - an important national monument and a venerated stupa

there was some work being done, perhaps because of the upcoming That Luang festival

and here's me (just to prove I'm here), with my new hat :-)

Tomorrow I start my walking! To be honest I feel a little scared, but that's normal. It's an early night tonight, and I want to get going by 6am tomorrow. Will update again as soon as I can.

He who would travel happily must travel light

It’s a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (the guy who wrote ‘The Little Prince’, amongst other things). I guess it applies directly to the size of the pack you carry on your back, but in a more philosophical sense perhaps it means that you should also let go of the 'baggage' you carry in your mind and heart, and be prepared to open up to new experiences if you want to enjoy them...

I’m off to Laos in six hours!! Finally got packed and got everything ready

This is everything laid out

Close up of the ‘essential travelling kit’ and all the little extras you may need

Then everything parcelled into bags: it’s good to compartmentalise things – easier for unpacking and repacking when you move around a lot, and plastic bags stop things from getting wet.

And then everything into my trusty rucksack that went hitchhiking around Europe with me, and to my trip around SEAsia in 1997. One trick to travel light is simple – have a small bag so you’re forced to bring less :-) This bag is 30 litres volume – basically I have five days worth of clothes, and minimal everything else (e.g. a hand-towel instead of a large one).

I have a slightly ambitious plan, for the first 5-6 days, I want to walk from Viang Chan (Vientiane) to Muang Vangviang – using the older national road that goes via Ban Tha Ngon. It's a total of about 160km; I’ll probably cheat a little and take a bus out of the city some distance, then try to walk the rest.

Google Map looks very bare, but I have quite a detailed map from the Rough Guide (the best I found), and there are a number of villages and small towns on the way.

I’ll be updating as often as I can on the way, but now I’d better get to bed!