Hello Laos!

Patuxay

“Is there a country named Laos?” I remember my 19-year-old nephew asking his mom before our trip to Laos. biggrin Well, I couldn’t blame him. I myself didn’t know much about Laos before. It’s not until I had a classmate back in college who had her internship in Laos. It was then when I checked the map and searched which part of the world is Laos. I never expected that one day I would find myself walking on the streets of Laos. It happened to be the first new country that I visited this year 2011. We reached Laos via the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok. It was a long 12-hour journey from Bangkok yet I was glad to set foot in this small but lovely country.

Laos was once known as the Ancient Kingdom of Lane Xang or Land of a Million Elephants. It is a landlocked country in southeast Asia, which I think makes this country unique. It is bordered by Myanmar and China to the north, Thailand to the west, Vietnam to the east and Cambodia to the south. I really think living in Laos would be interesting as you would immediately have a gateway to five countries. It has a population of around 6.8 million, which is extremely low compared with our 92 million population in the Philippines. biggrin

I actually booked a roundtrip ticket to Bangkok through Cebu Pacific’s 10-10-10 promo fare last year. It was only a short 6-day trip but when I learned that you could take an overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Laos. I excitedly included Laos in our itinerary. I split our itinerary into two: 3 days in Bangkok and 3 days in Laos. Thus, our trip seemed like an amazing race as we jumped off from one place to another everyday. It was kinda exhausting and yet it was all worth it. As its tourism slogan says, “Laos-Simply Beautiful.” And I can’t agree more. Laos showed us that it has its own beauty to offer.

Like its neighboring countries, Vietnam and Cambodia, Laos was also colonized by France. It was under French rule from 1893-1954. The country was part of Indochina, known as the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. French colonial influence can still be seen around the country’s capital, Vientiane. One of the distinct French colonial architectures in the city is the Patuxay, which resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Patuxay park is really beautiful and it is my favorite place in Vientiane.

Inside Patuxay

We were lucky because there was a cultural show at the park when we went there. I think there was an event but we really couldn’t figure out what’s the happening since we couldn’t understand anything. The host was speaking in Lao and I think we were the only foreigners among the audience. Anyway, I grabbed my camera for this wonderful photo opportunity. biggrin

After the show, we took a tuktuk to bring us to the city center. Vientiane is just a small city so just a day or two would be enough to stroll around. Before coming to Laos, I had often seen articles and blogs describing Vientiane as a sleepy capital. Well, let’s say the city is not as active as Bangkok and not as bustling as Manila. The atmosphere here is more relaxed and laid-back compared with other capital cities. I think this makes Vientiane more unique and special in its own way. My mom, my sister and I explored the city on our feet. We just headed to where our feet led us. So now, let me give you a glimpse of Vientiane:

The Presidential Palace

I saw these worm creatures being sold in the market. It looks like they were deeply fried. I found out on the net that these are silkworm pupae and they are eaten as a good source of protein of the locals.

Fried Silkworm pupae

Buddhist monks are also normally seen walking around the city.

Theravada Buddhism is the most dominant religion in Laos. Almost 67% of the people are Buddhist. There are many Buddhist temples in Vientiane but due to limited time we were not able to visit all of them. We only visited one temple that is near to the market.

That’s the end of our half-day walking tour around the city. Vientiane is lovely in its own way. It may not be as busy and active as other capital cities in southeast Asia but I definitely enjoyed our time there. It felt so safe walking around the city and it’s absolutely less polluted compared with other cities. You could see that the country is gradually progressing after it had gained it’s independence from France in 1954.

One of my favorite pictures taken in Laos is this photo of a little Lao boy. I saw him at the restaurant where we ate our breakfast. He was busily eating his meal and I was kinda hesitant to ask him if I could take his picture. I’m usually shy to ask people if I could take a snapshot of them. I was afraid that the boy would feel shy and runaway. However, when I approached him he cheerfully posed and smiled for my camera.  :-)

17 comments on “Hello Laos!

  1. bookjunkie says:

    what an interesting post! I never knew the population of Laos was that small or The Philippines was that huge. Two places I want to go to one day.

  2. vin says:

    this blog entry just made me more excited with my upcoming trip to laos this october. i hope i get to experience the same🙂

    • Hi Vin! Nice to know you’re going to Laos this October. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your trip to Laos. It’s only a small country but it also has a lot of things to offer🙂 I just wish we could have stayed longer. Nabitin pa din kami dun sa 3 days hehe. All the best to your trip Vin! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  3. pinoy boy says:

    when i checked your most recent blog, the first thing that came to my mind was WOW! Laos! I haven’t been there. i want to reserve a longer time so i can explore Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. One question, can you remember the details of the sleeper train? Was it just one long ride? if it’s a sleeper train, i am cool with that. i really don’t want to fly to Laos! thanks so much

    • Hi Jerik! I agree with you. It’s best to reserve a longer time to travel around Laos. If I would be given a change again, I would stay there for 1-2 weeks because there are just so many places to see. I really hope I could visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang next time. I heard the place is really awesome🙂

      Regarding the sleeper train, actually, my next post would be about that. I’ll write about how to go Laos by train from Bangkok. It’s very easy to reach Laos by train and I really find it more reasonable than flying there. The travel time via the overnight sleeper train takes around 12 hours. It sounds long but you won’t really notice it as you would be sleeping most of the time. I actually found the journey fun and exciting. I’ll update you as soon as I’ve finished my post about the sleeper train to Laos. Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  4. chyng says:

    whoa, Laos! I agree, by your pictures I think it’s also sa must see.
    pero too long ang 2 weeks ^_^

    • sarap kasi ng mga French foods sa Laos kaya gusto ko mag-stay ng matagal tagal hehe:mrgreen: But I think pwede na rin ang one week if you’ll visit Luang Prabang. Thanks for stopping by Chyng! I really enjoyed reading about your trip in Batad🙂

  5. pinoy boy says:

    wow! thanks! abangan ko ang next post. kasi before, parang vietnam laos kasi lagi ang route. at least eto from bangkok! yey!

    • Kakatapos ko lang nung post. hehe. Sensia na sa delay ha. I’ve been really busy lately. Madali lang naman sya lalo na ngayon na may shuttle train na rin ang Laos. At least pwede mo din isama ang Bangkok sa trip mo🙂 Enjoy and have a safe trip! 🙂

  6. parang Thailand din lng mga temples. hehe I’m saving Laos for nxt year, or hopefully ths year. nice outfit by the way.🙂

    • Thanks Gael! Sa totoo lang ma-fe-feel mo talaga yung temple overload if you’re traveling around southeast Asia. hehe. Kaya nga hindi na din namin pinuntahan lahat ng temples sa Bangkok. I’m happy to hear you’re planning to go to Laos. I’m looking forward to that🙂

  7. Madelie says:

    Very nice blog ! Thanks for all this infos, it will help me to plan my trip!

  8. A. K. Ghosh says:

    Very nice – quite informative. It would have been more useful had the nice photographs were with its identity ( like Presidents Place ).If you wish to incorporate the same now,kindly mail me,please.

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    I have a blog based upon on the same ideas you discuss and would
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