Week 71 – Laos

Was able to start the week on a good note, a couple of hours at the BMW driving experience on Sunday. Modelled after the program in South Carolina, except instead of week commitment (and serious money) had about an hour on the test track in an M5 for $65 (after 30 minutes of instruction). No pictures allowed. Probably not a good idea not to allow people to temp themselves to take selfies at 120 MPH plus. Car is capable of much faster, but only 650 meter straightaway and my driving skills didn’t have me coming out of the turn fast enough and braking too early for the next turn. Afterward was told I should have been able to get to 160MPH. Now I have a goal.

Attended a work conference in Vientiane, Laos. For those that travel business, they know that the way these things work is you are in a hotel (and effectively could be anywhere as you are in meetings/presentations all day) for most of the time and you may be able to carve out a couple of hours while you are there and hopefully get a dinner out of the hotel than is not in a 100% western restaurant. That is how this trip worked out.

A little background – Laos is still 100% communist, adjacent to Vietnam, home of the Ho Chi Min trail (which is why the U.S. dropped more bombs in Laos during the Vietnam War than in Germany in WWII), and economically stunted. Little to no English spoken. Originally a French colonial territory, the architecture is more French than Asian for everything but the temples. The conference was in Laos because they offered the conference organizer a good deal, but the focus was elsewhere in S.E. Asia. I was a little worried about anti-U.S. feelings and had my Australian accent and backstory ready (I am from Brisbane mate), but no issues.

I had about 2 hours for touring when I arrived, got a cab and paid $13 for trip to the tourist sites…only took an hour and a half. Reminded me more of India than Thailand or Vietnam – just with much lower population density as it had the shanytowns like Mumbai (just much smaller). The tourists were in 2 groups – backpackers (most Australian) or wealthy (private luxury car and wearing sport jackets) – I was somewhere in between. Before I left, was able to rent a bike from the hotel and got another couple of hours riding through town. Pictures attached.

Slogan for BeerLao – in a communist one-beer country, it was pretty good.
Picture in front of Patuxai
Picture from the hotel of Mekong River – other side is northern Thailand. This is 1 mile from the capital building. Very little development.
Outdoor -3 level resturant – really really good. For $120 10 people ate for 2 hours.
Random temple in city
Name of restaurant – awesome place
Re-painted ceiling of temple
Our hotel – no building is allowed to be over 5 stories and the city is trying to re-build and present a historical perspective. But a Chinese developer came into town and applied for a building permit for a 5 story hotel and just kept going.
Typical electrical wiring
Riding in town – just not a lot of traffic.
60 years of communist success to celebrate
60 cents a glass for BeerLao was too much, so we were bought in bulk – 30 cents a glass and a server. For clarity – only served beer.
From the top of Patuxai – a monument similar to Arc de Triomphe with the roads radiating to the Presidental Palace and other sites. Wide straight roads in most of town.
Presidential Palace – french influence

Week ended on a high note, after the double red-eye (overnight flights 2 nights in a row with meetings back in Seoul in between) got to see Alex in L.A. and now off to see Annelise’s graduation.”

From Week 71 – Laos. Posted by JC Travels on 5/23/2015 (16 items)


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