Well there used to be.
Out first taste of the infamous “Laos time” was experienced at the border. Stumbling from the bus in the wee hours of the morning, feeling cold for the first time in months as we became saturated from the jungle rains. A guessing game as to were to go and who to give our passports to, we finally got through with the understanding that the citizens of Laos have their own perception of time and will get around to it when it suits.
The landscape is breathtaking, a mess of jungly growth draped over every surface with jagged mountains jutting in random abundance everywhere you look. Deep valleys with snaking rivers, at the bottom of the cliff the bus precariously drives along, the roads so windy and rough it’s hard to sit still in your seat.
Every hour or so little thatched huts appear on the side of the road with families sitting or bathing at the front with pigs, cows and chickens roaming amongst them and onto the road. Their rice fields stretching like green puddles of uniformity against the surrounding wilderness.
Vientiane emerged from the forest more like a sprawling town than a city with the languid pace of life on the river. No hassling here and a meagre smattering of tourism. Pretty temples, Mekong beers and scary street food and awesome salad rolls, we liked the feeling of the capital.
With a dose of ‘culture’ for the tourists we enjoyed a huge feast of delicious Laos food in a grand old theatre as we were serenaded with traditional music. Various dances telling the stories of Laos were acted out in flamboyant costumes, at times slapstick movements and bird calls. We were the only people in the theatre enjoying our private show, the beautiful lady dressed as a bird tied white strings on our wrists for luck.
We enjoyed the museum here, with a solid ancient history section with real fossils and artefacts. As well as a lot of information about the culture from past till the present and huge array of historical photographs. Not too much propaganda and realistic documentation of the impact of the ‘secret war.’ The effect of which is still causing major problems and deaths in mainland Laos with an absolutely huge number of unexploded bombs still left in the ground. They have puppet shows for the children to explain not to walk on foreign land and to not touch unknown objects.
More temples and markets were explored, admiring the handicrafts and wondering at what we will eat next. Will it be scary or awesome? A Russian roulette of cuisine. Emm loved looking at the sculptures of the different Buddhas, their features have a very Fairy/Alien look, so otherworldly. In particular the hands are most fascinating, so long and curved. The thumb always a little too long.