• Tara B. Vasi

Day 21: Vientiane, Laos. Buddha Park, Caged Bird Temple, Best soup ever, CoPE, ride to Vang Vieng

We woke up early to see Vientiane while we had the chance. I had the opportunity to talk to my sister and see my nephews even though Louie was sleeping. They has just gone to dinner. We booked two vans and planned to hit four different sites. The day is hot. In the 90’s. I am one of the last people to exit the hostel and go to one of the two vans at random. I open the van and see all the OG’s and immediately say, “Well, well, well”. The newbies are all in the second van. I see how this day is going to go. Grandma, OG’s means original gangsters.

We get to Buddha park and it is absolutely lovely. Everything is so green. Laos is just rad. I love it so much already.

The energy in the park is uplifting and I feel like my aura grows bigger and brighter the more I walk through and pass by the statues. I sneak off and find a place to meditate for a few minutes before joining the group. I chant Loka to Ganesh and have the chant stuck in my head for the rest of the day. The repetition of the chant is known to make some people insane, and I have definitely had the chant stuck in my head for days at a time before.

The Buddha is not testing with his hand on his head. The Buddha is dead.

We cover our shoulders as we roll up to this huge gold temple. As we enter we are approached by a woman holding many small cages full of birds. She wants to sell them to us to release in the temple for good luck. We are all taken aback by this. We want to buy them all and set them free! Poor little birds.

We notice some of them are injured and some cages are housing 6 small birds and others 2-3 big birds. We buy some birds their freedom, but still cannot get over this situation. Why just let them be free?

Later I am told that the birds are caged every morning, and when they are freed they go right back to the same area where they are fed, and then the following day, they are caged and released again and that is the process by which the men and women outside of the temple make money. I feel like my heart was taken advantage of again. Friggin duped. I do not support caged birds! Yet, I did support them. Another instance of taking advantage of people by tugging at their heart strings. God Dammit, I am so naive. I am just trying to do good here, people!

We drop by this cool fountain and this arch that apparently China bought for Laos as a symbol of friendship. I saw a mother and daughter awkwardly trying to take a selfie while sitting by the fountain. I offered to help them out and suggested different poses, just like the dork I am. I told them to make sure they enjoy each other and their trip because they will remember it forever. The mom smiled and laughed and clapped. Later I passed by the mother and she patted me on the butt. It was cute. Extremely inappropriate, but cute.

We go back to the same place we had dinner the night before and I get the special soup that is on the board as a special. It is the best miso vegetable soup I have ever had in my life. Jill, you need to make this.

We go to the COPE information center. This is the center of prosthetic education and we learn about the evolution of prosthetics and how this company provided prosthetic limbs to people that were victims of bombings and landmines during the Vietnam way and cannot afford healthcare or heath assistance. It made me think of my sweet friend Emily, who lost one of her legs in a car accident many years back that is having another surgery soon in preparation for her prosthetic. We went to Champlain college together and the study abroad program in france. We are also birthday twins. She is one of the strongest women in my life. She hasn’t lost hope or positivity and is truly an inspiration. #emilystrong

They showed a video of a woman who lost her 9 year old son in a land mine explosion. They went from hospital to hospital to get help and non of the hospitals had oxygen or blood. Had they been supplied, her son most likely would have survives the explosion. The video is a recount of the day and is truly heartbreaking to hear her story.

I reach in my backpack and a mini banana has erupted inside of my bag and everything is covered in slime.

Where are the new people? Did they ever leave the China Arch?

Goodbye Vientiane!

The Bus ride to Vang Vieng is windy and steep the majority of the trip. The luggage is on the roof covered with a tarp in case it rains. I get motion sickness.

Lang Vieng is a super small town comprised of three main streets. Its pretty much the stop over from Vientiane the Capital and Lang Prabang, the hot spot. There are cars, trucks, motorbikes, and pedestrians all over the streets and not much side walk. There are stray dogs sleeping in the street and I want to move them away, but figure at this point they are pretty good at taking care of themselves. There are a surprising large amount of intoxicated middle aged white men with young quiet Lao women, sitting in groups at various bars.

A must try food to try in Vang Viene is their folded pancake made with Nutella. Some have Nutella egg and cheese.

At dinner the table is divided into old and new, and I don’t have the energy to protest or commingle. I force down some vegetable fried rice and feel well enough to cruise through the Night Market where I get a pair of bathing suit shorts and an I love Laos muscle shirt, like a true white girl.

I room with Emma, a young woman from Ireland and lucky duck Bryony gets her own room. It was her turn. Emma is sweet and kind and we pretty much crash after dinner and rest up for the ADRENALINE BUNDLE we have scheduled for the next day. Kayaking, caving, and maybe we will actually bond with the newbies.


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