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The Vertical Airport

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One of so many Buddhas

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Sepak Takraw at a monastery

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The park's largest Buddha

LAOS     The ancient name for Laos was "the land of a million elephants".  Some have called it "the land of a million irrelevants".  I read one article declaring "Laos, where nothing happens, is savored succulently after you have seen the world and are weary of its ways."  Well, I wanted a break.  I wanted rest.  I got what I wanted -- maybe more than I wanted.  This trip would be remembered for what I didn't do.

VIENTIENE     After Manila and Bangkok, Vientiene seemed really dead.  It was delightful.  I walked from one end of the center of town to the other in about twenty minutes.  Just rambling around I hit most of the highlights recommended in the guide books.

One "destination" was the "vertical airport", an archway to commemorate veterans of war and constructed with cement from the U.S. designated for a new airport.  It was amazing what could be done with cement in Laos! 

A must see place to go was the French restaurant.  Cambodian food was okay.  ( I especially liked Chicken Laap!)  Thai food was great.  But, the French salad at the Le Bayou was to die for.   I didn't want to be the first client so I took a leisurely stroll to the river.  On the way back, two guys on a motorcycle tried to lift my back pack!  I wasn't the easy target they suspected.  The thieves had surprise on their side.   However, I definitely had size, weight, and strength on mine.  I also fortunately had a good grip on the bag.  I held my ground, pulled back on the bag, and yanked the thief off backwards from the motorcycle!

It was like it happened in slow motion.   I remember first checking my back pack. The next thing that I saw was the tail light of the motorcycle flying through the air.  I thought, "Good!  This will cost them a little!"    Finally, I saw the would be thief sitting on the ground with his legs spread out wide before him.  I'm sure he was bruised.  We both were shocked.

The event stunned me; I didn't react quickly.  The thief jumped up, hopped on the motorcycle, and escaped before I could do anything but yell "Thief!" (which didn't help in a non-English speaking country.)  But,  I had my bag and didn't need anything else.

And, I still had my salad.

BUDDHA PARK, near VIENTIENE     I'd originally planned to go it alone on motor bike and explore neighboring villages.  Well, I tuk tuked it.  The road was lined with development the whole 25 kilometers.  No villages to explore, but the park was interesting.  It was almost like an amusement park filled with a wide assortment of Buddhist statues in all sizes.  The reclining Buddha was simply enormous.

Copyright 1998 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.