Vientiane has a new breed of inhabitant taking over this miniature capital like plague. They come in all colours and ages, they walk in the blazing sun, guide books in hand like a passport to the city. But these documents only provides access to the tangle of streets by the river and the areas surrounding tourist attractions. They flock here, heavy expensive cameras dangling precariously from sunburnt shoulders. Their incessent documentation makes me ashamed to extract my own. This new breed of Vientiane visitor is mostly European and invariably comes net-book ready and unequipped with the skills to ward off beggards.
But they are Japanese and Australian too, holding their wallets open, conducting difficult mental arithmetic while trying to tell the difference between these strange foreign notes. I’ve been away, out of the tourist loop so long that I’m hit full on by the loud Germans blowing smoke, and I wonder why these men don’t wear undies under their flimsy Thai pants.
I think I’ve been here too many times and am made surly by the changes and by travelling alone – forever comparing it to my glowing memories. I judge the two fat men passing by with mullets and bumbags and realise that I’, one of them too, siting outside a frensh patisserie, nursing my iced coffee.
Regardless of my experience, Vientiane is relaxed, beautiful and delicious. If you rise before the sun then often you have a blessed few hours of exploration in the cool when most of your peers are still abed. Hibernate during the hot part of the day, it is better that way.
Unfortunately they are renovating the river front. Once a divine place to eat dinner is not infested with heavy machinery. The eateries are still there, just not so pleasant any longer.
More photos on Flickr.