Crossing the Mighty Mekong to visit Country No. 8 – Day 202 – 8 August

We did not have to leave Nong Khai today until getting on for dinnertime and as we had fallen in love with the place we had a quick word with the hotel owner who kindly lent us a couple of bikes and told us of the sculpture park just a short bike ride away that we could go and visit but he also said it may be nice for us to start the day with a bite to eat at the German bakers round the corner. The hotel owner explained that it was ‘the best in town’ and that was a good enough recommendation for us. To be fair it was every bit as good as he described which was a really nice surprise, I had one of the best sausage sandwiches ever and speaking as one from the country that invented the ‘sandwich de sausage’ (lol), that is praise indeed. We did get chatting to a Thai guy whilst there who explained why we should consider moving away from the UK to Asia and we did not mind too much being informed of the obvious but he did bang on a bit and we felt it was time for us to continue our excursion.

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Strange looking ‘bouncer’ at the entrance to the Sculpture Park!

It was a very hot bike ride past the Wat on the riverbank which was undergoing some major renovation and when we finally reached the Sculpture park it was good if a little unusual. The sculptures are huge and not all seemed to have a religious theme but maybe it was just that I was not so hot on knowing about Buddhism or Hinduism. In the middle of the park was a pond with big fish in it and plenty of visitors feeding them, which explained their size. The biggest sculptures were as big as a tree but it was all well worth the bike ride, even the rather precarious and dangerous last part which was over main road. It was a good trip out but we soon enough had to be back for our Tuk Tuk to go to the bus station to take us to Vientiane, Laos.

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In the Sculpture Park were the Weird and the Wonderful – and I don’t mean me and the Missus!!!!!

This started off well enough until we hit the Friendship Bridge which was not quite as friendly as we had hoped for. Our driver did not speak the best English and the individuals we came across at the various desks of the Border Control also had not the best grasp of the English language either. So we found ourselves going round in circles on a few occasions but our coach driver waited patiently for us so all was good in the World and we finally entered Laos.

Once on the other side of the Mekong, the side we had watched over our food and drinks yesterday, it was just a shortish drive to getting to the capital city of Laos, Vientiene. Now from everything that we had read in the guidebooks Vientiene was supposed to be a quiet city – not really sure what their definition of ‘quiet’ means exactly but I suppose it is a few notches down from Bangkok or Phnom Penh and the like.

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Crossing the Mekong into a new country – Laos!

We reached the hotel and this was not the best we had been to on our travels and the welcome from the staff was not the best either, thinking about it neither was the room but it was okay enough and sometimes you really do just have to take the rough with the smooth. The ‘smooth’ was when we went out for a bit of a scout about and came across the bakeries which they seem to have millions of, possibly something left over from the French occupation of the country. So ‘when in Rome’, so we stopped at one not too far from our digs which had been recommended by the LP. It seemed to do very croissants but we ended up having a sandwich instead. After this we went back to the room to chill and have a bit of a kip before coming back out on the night.

When night came we took a wander round the local market before then going out further for something to eat. I plumped for the delicious dish that is Laab, which I had eaten only last night, in Thailand. I thought it would be interesting to see how it’s Laos cousin fared. Last night’s Laab had managed to burn out my entire mouth and arse and when I first tucked into this it seemed so much milder. It had only a slight kick and was quite minty and as I ate my confidence grew as did my mouthfuls, this was child’s play or so I thought, until the very last mouthful. It appears that my Laab contained the mischievous Mexican-burn-your-mouth-out-hiding chillies that had grouped together and hidden in wait for me at the bottom of my dish. Whilst my mouth burnt I first tried gulping my beer to cool it somewhat then held the beer in my mouth to lessen the effects of the chillies, neither were having much of an effect. I actually felt like my mouth was blistering this was bad news folks! Okay so my mouth started to cool after a while but this was hot hot stuff.

After this ‘shock to the senses’ there was only one way to recover, so across the road we went to an Aussie bar (what else?) to treat ourselves to a couple of beers or three! Whilst there Liz spotted someone who looked like the twin of a neighbour of hers back home, so Liz got chatting to him with a view to getting a photo of herself with him which by the end of the night she had managed. On the short stumble back ‘home’ to our hotel I got talking to a right ‘Geezer’ from London who seemed to be in an even worse state than I was. Liz decided it was far too late to be chatting though and with her assistance we negotiated our way back home … lol.

Well that’s it for blog number 1 – if you have found yourself ‘hooked’ on our tales then try https://lizandpatsexcellentadventure2.wordpress.com – for more of my drivel lol. Onwards and upwards!!

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