PI MAI LAO everyone
Vientiane Lao 14 April to 16 April 2017
During the long drive from Thakhet to Vientiane the flat scenery was punctuated by jagged mountains and outcrops of stone. The hamlets along the way were clearly in Pi Mai Lao mode or Preparing for New Year celebrations. Still we encountered more livestock on the way and even more frequently herds of water buffalo wandering by the side of the road. With happy revellers riding motorbikes quite carelessly we needed to be on the alert form waterbombs, buckets of water, and hosing. This was topped off by talcum powder and food dye.
WE arrived at the Buddha Park about 20kms from Vientiane to a multitude of stalls and a park filled with a 100 different depictions of Buddha – this is situated on the banks of the Mekong. The national flower is of Lao is the frangipani and the other flower which is blooming everywhere is the Golden Rain tree. Blooms of this are draped over cars and used to sprinkle jasmine scented water over the Buddhas and temples.
We arrived in Vientiane to a thorough soaking from super soakers and water bombs and talc and very loud music which we could feel the pounding beat in our chests as we drove down the streets.
We had a traditional meal of sticky rice in banana tubes and char grilled chicken and papaya salad. Most of the cafes and restaurants were closed all in preparations for the next few big days. We went to bed with ear plugs because the music was so loud from across the road.
15 April 2017
This morning started tamely with an early morning visit via tuk tuk to a temple, museum and a stupa. The temple once housed the famous Emerald Buddha which is now in Bangkok. The Golden Stupa is being restored and glistened in the early morning sun. One of our group bought a cage of 2 finches which she released in the grounds of the temple. This temple housed hundreds of tiny Buddhas in small niches around the walls. The walls were slowly being restored to their original brilliant colours. Unfortunately we weren’t able to take photographs inside.
Upon returning to the hotel we heard that a parade was due to start so we wander over to the main street to witness massive mosh pits of people dancing under plumes of water. We didn’t escape a soaking either -as we walked we were bombarded with ice water and super soakers and buckets of water. Even eating our lunch in a café didn’t protect us as utes filled with brightly coloured people slowly drove by throwing water at all .
Everyone was so happy and dancing everywhere-a wonderful time to be in Vientiane. Tomorrow we are off to the ancient capital Luang Prabang.