My first Visit to Vientiane
On 28 July 2010, I boarded the plane to Vientiane. It was my first visit to the capital of Laos. The flight was about 1 hour and 20 minutes. I was invited to participate in the 3rd Regional Stakeholders Forum of the Mekong River Development Plan by the Mekong River Commission. The forum lasted for two days, on 29-30 July. I took leave for one day to pay a private visit to the city, since it was my first time to come to Vientiane, Laos. The forum went well according to schedule with around 200 participants representing government’s institutions, business communities, civil society organizations and local communities from China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Representatives of international organizations and donors were also present.
Vientiane is relatively a calm city in this region, in comparison to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh city, Hanoi or even Phnom Penh. I stayed in one hotel not far from the Mekong riverside. I woke up every morning at 5am to do my regular physical exercise. Along the river bank, it is still very quiet. I did need to wake up the guard and receptionist to lock on the door to get me out. I enjoyed walking very much since it was quiet and fresh air. I walked back and forth from the hotel I stayed and the hotel we had function. It is about 2 Km one way.
The last day, I spent whole time walking from the hotel, across the city streets, passing the President’s Palace, Government’s Houses, Pagodas, city centers, historical monuments and to visit That Luong, the Landmark of Vientiane. There were some tourists visiting the sites. There was also not much traffic like in Phnom Penh. I have seen very few luxurious cars such as Lexus and big Land Cruisers. In the last evening, I went to have a drink at the third floor of a roof restaurant on the Mekong. It was a joyful evening and memorable visit to this beautiful and quiet city. Vientiane is quieter than Battambang, the second largest city of Cambodia 300Km from Phnom Penh.