When I was planning my trip the idea of spending 40 days in China seemed just crazy and I was a bit worried that maybe my plan was overambitious. I had a feeling that after few weeks I will be desperate to leave China but actually I was wrong! On a day of my flight to Vientiane, a capital city of Laos, I was excited but somehow sad that I was leaving spectacular Yunnan. On the other hand, I had enough of cold weather and even the tastiest bowl of noodle soup was not going to change the fact I was looking forward to fresh and raw vegetables, ice coffee and beautiful sunshine.
I knew that Laos is mostly a very rural country but as soon as I landed in Vientiane I could discover that this rural feel applies also to its capital. Laid-back atmosphere, French colonial architecture, beautiful Buddhist temples.. all of it was so much different from what I have seen and experienced in China. I was certainly starting a new part of my trip and it felt exciting to be back in Southeast Asia. It also triggered many happy memories from my travels around Vietnam and the first drink I treated myself to was a huge ice coffee with condense milk.
My stay in Vientiane was meant to be brief so I was glad I managed to sort out a visa for my trip to Cambodia despite getting to the Embassy late. A long walk in the Mekong riverside park completed my day and after an early morning flight I was ready to get some sleep before catching my bus to Vang Vieng the next day.
Wanting to get some sleep and actually getting it were two different things though. My hostel turned out to be a total party spot, like most of the hostels in this part of town. Even my earplugs could not help. At two o’clock in morning I was so angry because of the noise that I ended up (not literally but almost) pulling the plug out! Stopping the party was also to the relief of other people at the hostel but it seemed like it only got my blood boiling. Well, I lived next door to a tourist flat in Barcelona so it does not take much for me to explode about things like that, especially when I am tired.
I realised then that since I left China I was dealing with a type of backpackers I wanted to stay away from as we were not sharing similar take on travelling. Vang Vieng, my next stop, which has an opinion of a party place turned out to prove that even more. This time round I picked a place to stay, which was the furthest from all the bars, especially Sakura Bar with its famous “Drink Triple, See Double, Act Single” slogan that many backpackers proudly sported around the town on their vests.
Vang Vieng itself is small but charming so I did not regret stopping there for one night. I rented a bicycle and went around small villages exploring all the beautiful spots. I was hoping that there is more to Laos than the backpacker bubble that I experienced so far in my first few days.