15.05.2013 - 15.05.2013 39 °C
Today we got up nice and early and went for our complimentary breakfast. It was a choice of eggs and a baguette so Chelsea was extremely happy as she loves bread. After we set off on a mission to find the Thai embassy in order to apply for our visa. We decided to get a tuk-tuk and bumped into an American lad who was doing the same so shared the ride with him. It is only a short ride and cost 40000Kip. When we arrived we were immediately approached by several touts trying to get you to do the visa application through them, so we politely walked past and into the visa office. We collected the forms and released we had forgot our photocopies. We hadn't even brought a pen to fill in the form. Chelsea managed to cadge a pen of a nice man and we managed to get all our photocopies done upstairs in the embassy. The form is simple and you need, two passport photos, a photocopy of you Passport, any old Thai visas and your Laos visa. You also need your actual passport and a completed visa application. After you have completed the form you collect a number and wait in the seating area until your number is called. You then hand in the form and then wait in a separate seating area for your number to be called again so you can pay. It costs 1000B and they accept no other currency. It was a slow and perplexing process. There is no reason why the lady who you initially see can't take the money off you when you hand her our forms. You apply for your visa between 8.30am and 11.30am and collect it the next day between 13.30 and 15.30.
After we had sat with many other people in silence waiting to apply for our visa we decided to walk it back to the city centre. We dodged all the tuk-tuks who were desperate to know 'where you go' and managed to navigate back. We passed several lovely pagodas and temples, as well as victory monument and the presidential palace. Some of Vientiane is beautiful and spotless. The streets are really clean and landscaped and especially around the palace it is gorgeous. Big mature trees line the pavement so you can escape the sunshine and small shops selling, wicker, cloth and bits and pieces nestle in between high, French style buildings.
When we made it back we were extremely hot so we decided to duck into a cafe. We both had iced coffees and Chelsea had a cookie. The cafe was called Joma and was really modern and stylish with big artworks hung on the walls. It sold sandwiches, bagels, salads and baked goods. It is such a novelty for us to be able to have sandwiches, we love all the cafes. We spent an hour cooling off in the cafe and then decided to have a walk down towards the Mekong river. There is a new park so we decided to walk, sit in the shade and read our books. When we got there the park was immaculate but totally deserted and we can see why. The sun was blisteringly hot and there was no shade whatsoever. We walked it to the river, which was partly dry and wandered around the gardens for as long as we could before we managed to find a half shaded bench.
By this point it was late afternoon so we headed back calling at a bar for a few cheeky Laos beers. It was so warm we had to have ice in our beer to keep it at a cool temperature. We went back to our room and laid and watched a film in our hotel for a few hours before heading back out for some food.
We decided to head for the bar we visited yesterday and have a happy hour beer and entrées. They were just as good as yesterday but today there was an egg one, a fish one, a mushroom and a blue cheese. Luckily for us there was a rotund man at the bar who kept demanding more so we ended up having loads of little mouth watering bites before it was time to leave. Earlier today we spotted a fountain square with lots of bars and restaurants round it that was all closed. We assumed it would be open at night so we headed there. It was really lovely at night, it was all lit up with lights, the fountain was on and they had a band playing in the middle. All the restaurants and bars were open and we browsed the menus until one caught our eye. It was a tiny French restaurant tucked away inthe corner. We had a three course set menu for 67000kip with a carafe of red wine. We had salad, steak and potatoes and ice cream and fruit and it was totally delicious.
We really are enjoying Laos capital city. Before we came we had heard a lot of bad things about it but we are glad we didn't listen. There is something for everyone, there is lots of street food vendors right next door to seriously upmarket bars and eateries. There are cafes on every corner and the strange mix of Asian and European food makes for a really interesting break from the rest of Southeast Asia we have seen. We seem to be walking from cafe to cafe, sampling different cuisines and atmospheres and we really like it.