Having arrived late to Vientiane and taken the first guesthouse with an opening, Thursday morning I went to find a better option, an option with Internet. That is vital if you want to stay in touch with people who are scattered around the globe.
I checked into a nice looking guesthouse with a huge bed in a pretty good looking room. I signed on to catch up with photos and whatnot and discovered that even though there was wifi, the actual Internet connection was glacial. It was reminiscent of the 14.4 days. Facebook took over 15 minutes to load. Ping times to google were Averaging 5000ms over 20 hops with 8% packet loss and an MTU of 1100. This was terrible...
On top of that, as the day warmed up there began a breeze that crept in through the window leading out to the tiny alley, bringing with it a pungent aroma of pestilence.
It was mid day so I left the stench and went for a walk. Just as I was photographing some stuff and fearing getting rained on a nice tuk tuk driver came up and offered to take me to some local sites that were photogenic. He had photos of the laces and they were indeed grand so I agreed and jumped in the back of his tuk tuk. Off we went, the tuk tuk bumping and whining all the way.
The clouds went away without raining and left a hot, humid day. The skies were beautiful blue with an assortment of scattered clouds. I was soon drenched in sweat.
We saw four locations and miraculously ended up by my hotel. I went inside to clean up and cool off, then went to find dinner. I also had to figure out what to do in Laos.
I found a resturant where some kid on the way out said the food was good and ended up being wrong. Soon after sitting down a local girl started talking to me and invited me to sit with her. I obliged but soon regretted it. She could barely speak conversational English, seemed mentally vacant and just wanted to go to a bar. Soon after sitting down a man came by and offered me Viagra. I paid for my food and left.
I did go to a bar though. I had a delicious coctail and chatted with some backpackers from the UK. They suggested that I go to Veng Viang and showed me photos from the previous day. It was gorgeous and I thought that I'd like to go. Then they said it was a party town and I thought twice. It was gorgeous though...
I had been in Asia for a month so far and was finally getting a bit tired of traveling. I'm not sure if it was loneliness or exhaustion, but it was probably a bit of both. I was tired of having to look so far past the defacto tourist bullshit to find things actually worth doing. Photographing Veng Viang was definitely worth doing, but I'm the end I decided to fly back to Vietnam to be with tien and go to Vung Tau beach, something we had wanted to do previously but were unable to do. I was a little bummed about not getting to spend more time in Laos, but the world has a lot to see and I can always come back.
The next day I checked out of the stinky slow internet room and went to secure my airfare to Vietnam. I couldn't get a ticket for that same day so I got one for Saturday and went to find my third hotel in Vientiane. This was half the price of the last, had a window looking across a street to a temple and had no Internet. There was an Internet cafe right next door though.
To access the Internet you were supposed to go buy an access card, then log into their web portal and enter the info to get access. I really didn't feel like leaving my hotel room and took this as another cllaw sharpening tech challenge. Within a few minutes I'd found an open HTTP proxy within their network and used it to get online. The access was much much faster than my previous accomodations but had limitations on allowed protocols. It was fine for my needs and I spent the next few hours trying to circumvent the protocol limitations. I never got anywhere with it, but it was a good exercise and it was good to know that my skills hadn't dulled in the last month of unemployment.
I got hungry so I went back to the full mooncafe where I'd met the uk backpackers. This place was a branch of the Cambodian Boom Boom Room, a media store specializing in the illicit sale of music and movies to travelers at terribly low prices. One album was $1.50. I bought 5.
Back at the hotel there was smoke in the air as the monks across the street burned leaves they had raked up. This morning, July 4th, they woke me up with drumming and chanting. I think monks may not be great neighbors.
After a delicious breakfast I checked out, found a tuk tuk and headed for the airport. My short stay I Laos is pretty much over, save waiting for my currently delayed flight. I like it here though and I'd like to come back some day and go farther in. Today though it's airplanes, my girl, a hydrofoil and a beach.