2/12 Vang Vieng. Playground for young tourists, most of whom go down the river by tube, kayak or other means.
It's only appropriate that the branch of the "Lao Agricultural Promotion Bank" is surrounded by a paddock with a grazing goat.
On the left starts the ladder for ordinary mortals, on the right is the ladder for the spirits leading to their shrine.
3/12 I decide to do the cave loop. At the first cave I get two "guides", village boys from primary school. The motorbike battery powering the provided light spills acid on my t-shirt, the kids keep dazzling me with their lights and there is very little to see in the cave anyway. I pass on the others. There is a rock behind the town with a flag on top. As today is the first reasonably clear day I decide to try to climb it. First, I walk and bushbash around the base through the dry rice paddies. The climb is easy, ladders are provided and there is quite a good view from the top.
4/12 I cruise to Vientiane, the capital. The cheap guest house recommended to me is full and I end up in a somewhat expensive place. But it's very nice and run by a young Kiwi. In the afternoon I visit the Thai embassy to apply for a visa, but I hit a snag: you can only lodge applications in the morning and collect them in the afternoon the following day. But, tomorrow is the King's birthday and they are closed. This means I would have to stay 3-4 days here. I decide to pass and continue South soon. There is a consulate in Savannaketh. I want to be on the island of Koh Samui the 14th December to meet my old friend Ulla, who is spending her holidays there and bringing me some spare parts.5/12 I visit the National Museum. Interesting explanations of prehistory and dinosaur bones. The more recent history is all propaganda. Next, the big golden stupa, but I'm afraid there isn't much to see there. The temples flanking it, however, look very pretty from the outside. I climb the victory arch to the top, located on a broad avenue nicknamed the "Champs Elysees". Inside it's quite big and the space is filled with souvenir shops. Good views of the city from the top.