Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The plan? Still tentative.

Last night I sat outside my guesthouse, reading and playing a new game of Solitaire that I learned called Clock. (Btw, remember when I said that my room "wasn't exactly dirty, but also wasn't exactly spick and span?" Yeah, well, I've changed my mind. I have to sit outside because - yuck. I can't wait to leave this place which just may well be one of the dirtiest places ever. Sabaidy Guesthouse. Remember that name and only go there if it's your last choice.) I met a Texan named Simon who has been teaching English in China for the last two years. What's with Texans teaching English in Asia? Zach does the same thing. Anyway, Simon was a wealth of knowledge. He'd come to Vientiane from the north, the direction that I am somewhat blindly heading, so he was able to recommend some places. He also was telling me all about different ways to get from Vietnam to China via bus and train because I'd told him that the flight from Hanoi to Beijing was more expensive than I thought it'd be, but that I'd already committed to being there mid-March. When it came time for Simon to go to bed because he needed to be up at 6:30am, I gladly offered him the use of my cell phone to use as an alarm since he'd lost his. He made it seem like it was the biggest deal ever, but as far as I was concerned, he helped me much more than I helped him.

Today I went to the Victory Monument, a new-ish 60's building that is also referred to as the vertical runway. Apparently the US donated money was supposed to have been used for a new airport runway, but this concrete monstrosity was built instead.

You'll just have to trust me when I say that it looks much better from far away. For a 3000 kip entrance fee, you can walk to the top for a view of the city, but even that was just so-so. Afterwards I went to the morning market which I'm sure started out as a traditional market, but now it's more like a mall. In fact, check that, I just remembered that they are doing construction work and are actually turning it into Talat Sao Mall. There was jewelry, iPods, washing machines, cameras, fabrics, slippers, bamboo baskets, and all kinds of other stuff for sale. I was half-heartedly looking for a tank top, but didn't find one in my size.

I decided then to go swimming for awhile. There's a public pool right near the national stadium and they only charge 10,000 kip for a swim. I was already wearing my suit and had a big, thick novel with me, so I figured it would be a good way to while away some time. I also spent some time trying to figure out next steps in Laos, but I'm not too much farther along than I had been. I had wanted to go east to Phonsavan to see the Plain of Jars, but it's a little too out of the way, I think. So my current plan is to take an overnight bus on Thursday to Luang Prabang. I will most likely go to Luang Nam Tha, in the far north bordering Burma and China, after that. After that, I have only the slightest idea.

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