After spending some in decadently relaxing Vang Vieng, I ventured down to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Most capitals I have visited are thriving metropolises, but not so with Vientiane. I don’t know why, but it had an abandoned feel to it. There were people around, a good amount of activity, but the streets just seemed empty. I still don’t know why. It was just missing the hustle and bustle of most capital cities.
Vang Vieng is quite a unique place. It is famous, and infamous. It is a backpacker mecca, and a backpacker hell. There’s everything to see, and there’s nothing to see. Faced with a place like this, of course I had to go take a look!
When I came to Laos, I knew that I wanted to visit the Field of Jars, a UNESCO world heritage site. I’ve got a hankering to visit these types of places, I’ve noticed – if UNESCO deems it a world heritage site, it must be interesting! And so, from Luang Prabang, I took a bus to Phonsavan, the closest city to the Field of Jars.
Luang Prabang is the old capital of Laos, from before the communists took over and moved the capital to Vientiane. As such, it has all the museums, most of the culture, and is probably the most popular tourist destination of Laos. And in hindsight, Luang Prabang is probably the only place really worth visiting in Laos.
After crossing from Thailand into Laos (from Chiang Rai to border town Chiang Khong, then crossing to border town Huay Xai), I took the famous (and infamous) slow boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. Spanning two days and 300 kilometers, the slow boat is a meandering ride down the Mekong. Depending on the clientele, you can have two types of boats – the typical backpacker ‘party’ boat, and the more serene, relaxing boat. Thankfully, I ended up on the relaxed boat, and read my way down the river.