The beds on the train were comfortable. The A/C was chilly. The food was expensive and of low quality. We arrived at the Laos-Thai friendship bridge around 9:00AM. After buying our visas at the border we took a Tuk-Tuk into Vientiane, the capital of Laos.
This is a capital city like none I have ever seen. It has the look and feel of a small town. After lunch we went for a walk. After wandering around a few Buddhist Wats, we were invited out of the hot sun by a Tuk-Tuk driver sitting with a group of neighborhood kids. We sat with them on wooden benches under a tin roof, watching the Mekong river, laughing and practicing each others language.
One of the girls spoke English very well. Her English teacher is from Edmonton. She explained that everyday, all around Laos, neighbors young and old sit together in the afternoons and evenings, to talk, joke, and relax. She also told us that the Tuk-Tuk driver was a great joker, and that he was sad he couldn’t speak with us. We spoke to him using the universal language of smiles.
Most Lao are Buddhist. They believe that Karma, more than hard work, sets the course of their lives. Our guide book mentions that a commonly held Lao belief is that ‘too much work is bad for your brain.’
A French saying (from their colonial days):
‘The Vietnamese plant rice; the Cambodians watch it grow; the Lao listen to it grow.’
Tonight (around 16:30) we’ve been invited back to the shaded hut to watch (and listen to?) the sun set.