March in Laos: Vientiane’s Temple Architecture

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People don’t really go to Laos for its temples. While it’s hardly Ayuthaya or Angkor Wat, Vientiane hasĀ  some lovely architecture. Siamesecat and I spent a leisurely hour exploring How Pha Kaew which now functions as a museum of art and antiquities rather than a temple.

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The style was a lot less formal and lacked the grandeur of other places in the region. But this gave the whole complex a rather relaxed feel, somehow as if they didn’t take themselves that seriously.

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I liked this wooden structure beautifully gilded with gold leaf. The inside housed many treasures belonging to the city. It was a pity that the interior was poorly lit and the exhibits were placed rather haphazardly.

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Laotian architecture, influenced by neighbouring Thailand, pays attention to small details. I enjoyed this naga carving…

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… and absolutely adored the carvings on the eaves. I especially loved how this dragonfly was taking a breather on the dragon! Look carefully now.

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Inside, the door panels had ornate carvings, again coated with gold leaf.

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As in most Buddhist structures, there were Buddha statues all over the place. This tortoise stuck out amidst the many statues. I guess the poor guy doesn’t get much respect seeing as they had to put a “No Sitting” sign on him!

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March in Laos: Rush Hour in Vientiane

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The first trip of my year off was with Siamesecat to Laos. We flew into Vientiane by budget airline and made a whistle-stop tour of the capital Vientiane. Cheapskates as we were, we refused to pay the 30,000 kip (S$6) offered by the taxi drivers and strolled out of the airport gates. Luckily we managed to flag down a tuk-tuk without a fare and paid 20,000 kip (S$4) instead. The airport highway was hardly a highway at all and we already felt relaxed in the traffic at rush hour.

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Nope, your eyes didn’t deceive you. This is rush hour traffic. Amazing stuff, isn’t it?

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There really didn”t seem to be much happening in this neck of the woods except other backpackers in search of accommodation. It’s true, Laos is just so plain sleepy!

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There wasn’t much in terms of attractions in Vientiane. Here’s some fountain that’s supposed to be a tourist attraction but I forget why it’s important. Siamesecat just took the picture for the heck of it.

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What I liked most about Vientiane was it’s unassuming charm and the pretty sights that were never really meant to be postcard worthy. There’s something about the coconut trees and temple eaves juxtaposed against off-roader that makes me think of tropical paradise here.

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We were lucky to arrive during mango season. At this stall at the Morning Market (still open in the afternoon), the boss lady deftly cut up our mangoes with expert fingers and looked on amusedly as we posed and then devoured them. One of my best fruit memories of the year was eating mangoes here. As I type, my mind replays the fragrant sticky-sweet drip, and my mouth waters.

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