Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 8 Hmong Morning Market and on to Vientiane

Up at 5.45am (ugh!) to meet Vung for or trip out to the mong Morning market at Nong Pet. Lovely scenery on the half hour drive, past many small villages nestled in rice paddies. The market was in two parts and we were the only falang there. The clothes & household wears section was much the same as the markets in town. The food section also, fish, chicken, pork in one area and fruit & veg close by. The Hmong women are quite easy to distinguish by te scarf they wear and their beautiful bone structure. They are also all quite short so I towered above some of them. Sadly, no traditional textiles.

After a wander round we took a walk through the village itself and ended up having coffee at a little roadside restaurant (it had a sign out the front saying restaurant!) The old man & his wife who ran it spoke French and a very little bit of English so it was just as well we had Vung with us. He ha an amazing collection of old ordinance, bomblets, grenades, pineapple bombs etc. Easily the best coffee in Laos – the old man roasts it himself and it was fantastic, as were the little fried yellow bean cakes his wife served with it.

Back to town and some time to kill before we had to check out. Off once again to the Jars CafĂ© for a coffee and one last look round the Phonsavan market when the rain came down. Gave up on the market and headed for an early lunch then back to the hotel to grab our bag before Vung dropped us at the airport. Smaller and less salubrious even, than the airport at Nha Trang in Vietnam. Just one small building serves as arrivals, departures, security, check-in – the works. Much excitement from the kids at the airport when a Lao military chopper landed, stayed for a bit and took off again.

Our flight to Vientiane hardly reached cruising altitude and we were descending. A taxi from the airport to our hotel cost 65,000kip (about $8). We’re staying at the Auberge Sala Inpeng, and what a beautiful place it is. Rooms are set out two to a bungalow with a verandah along the front (where we get breakfast in the mornings) and are in traditional Lao style.

After a quick nap we headed out to explore Vientiane. Wow – what a lovely city, very similar to Phnom Penh in some regards, the wide quay along the river, the shops lining the road by the river, tuk tuk drivers asking “tuk tuk Sir” – we’d been here all of two ours and already have the feeling we’re going to really love this city. Also found a great little coffee shop from which to watch the world.

Finally found an ATM that was happy to spit me out some cash. An ANZ one! Han not had any luck through Luang Prabang or Phonsavan and the first one I tried in Vientiane told me my card was invalid! After all the frustration I’m happy to pay the $5 fee!

Night market stalls set up along the riverfront late in the afternoon. Can’t help ourselves! Dinner and a wander through the markets rounded out the day.

Cheers for now

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