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Moving on to Vietnam

Indochina Day Seventeen

View Indochina 2020 on ToonSarah's travel map.

Tree flowering by our veranda, La Folie

Well, my theory about the breakfast buffet at La Folie being a weekend treat was proved totally wrong this morning, a Tuesday, as it was back! Hurray, I could have more of their delicious banana bread on this, our last morning in Laos.

After breakfast we paid our bill and then had a couple of hours to kill before our 11.00 am departure by boat to meet Hom on the east bank. I spent much of the time on our veranda, enjoying the view and looking for birds. But although I could hear quite a few I only spotted one, and I only got a half-decent photo of what I concluded was probably an Asian Brown Flycatcher.

View from our veranda

Cows on the beach

Bird seen from our veranda

I enjoyed the twenty minute boat ride, our last look at the Mekong.

Crossing to the 'mainland'

Hom was waiting for us at the jetty and we were soon on our way to the airport, a drive of about an hour. Unlike on our arrival here three days ago, I managed to grab a few photos of Pakse out of the car window as we passed through.

From a bridge near Pakse

Pagoda, and temple


Arriving in Pakse

Propaganda poster

Flying to Vientiane …

We arrived a few minutes before check-in opened, but after a short wait were able to check our bags – only through to Vientiane, however, as we would clear Vietnamese immigration there.

Everything at Pakse Airport is incredibly compact. It had been only a few metres from the entrance to the check-in area, and from there just steps to passport control and beyond that security. We then had a lengthy wait in a rather barren room at one of the only two gates. A small shop sold everything from souvenirs (t-shirts, embroidered bags, carvings, jewellery) through cough sweets and tissues to coffee, Lao-Lao whisky and dried fish! Or at least it would have done, had there been anyone serving there. As it was, almost everything was on open display for any shop-lifter to help themselves, apart from the jewellery and some cans of beer and soft drinks, which were in a padlocked chiller cabinet.

Meanwhile one local man appeared to be so bored by the wait that he conducted a series of lengthy calls on speaker phone. I'm sure that had we spoken Lao we would have learned a lot about his private life!

Our plane at Pakse Airport

Thankfully we boarded and took off on time, with views of a temple with a huge Buddha statue (I think Wat Chompet) and of the Mekong as we climbed.

Temple, and Mekong view


Islands in the Mekong

A drink and snack were served - the latter rather bizarre fruit crisps which messed with my head through having the texture of a savoury snack but tasting sweet!

As we came into land at Vientiane Airport I could see a sprinkling of high rise buildings among the more traditional-looking ones and temples.




Coming into land in Vientiane

We collected our bags and walked the short distance into the next-door international terminal. We had four hours before our Hanoi departure and naturally check-in wasn't yet open. We found a coffee shop upstairs in which to pass some of the time, with free wifi so we could catch up on messages and news.

Check-in opened two and half hours before departure and everything went quickly with only short queues at each stage. That left us with almost two more hours to kill before boarding - another drink (good cappuccino - the quality of the coffee everywhere on this trip was a real plus point!), a sandwich and writing some notes for this blog occupied some of the time, but it was a long and rather boring wait.

Coffee art

Sign in the ladies
~ I have to say that it has never occurred to me to do this!

… and on to Vietnam

We boarded eventually and actually took off a little early. The flight to Hanoi took about an hour and of course it was dark all the way. But we could see as we came into land that we were arriving in a much bigger and more developed city than any we had seen in Laos.

We were quickly through immigration, with no forms to fill in and no need for a visa. We were met outside the airport by our guide Huan and driver Cheung. Huan told us that he had been waiting there since mid afternoon - again there had been a communication problem between office and guide, as with Lee in Luang Prabang, and he had been given the time that we landed in Vientiane, not here in Hanoi! Luckily a call to the office had reassured him that he hadn't somehow missed us, but we felt bad about his long wait even though it wasn't our fault.

The drive to the city centre took us over an attractive new bridge, beautifully lit up - I wished I had been quicker to get my camera out and video it. After a smooth ride initially, we then reached the bustle of the Old Quarter, with bars spilling on to the street and bikes and scooters everywhere.

We got to our hotel, the Essence, around 10.00 pm. After a welcome drink we were shown to our room on the sixth floor. It was attractive but very compact and we were quite glad at this point that we would only be spending a couple of nights here (we were to change our minds about that, as you will see!) Time to settle in and for bed ...

Our room at the Essence Hotel

Decoration above the bed

Posted by ToonSarah 08:47 Archived in Laos Tagged views hotel flight airport river vietnam laos hanoi mekong

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How interesting to see a line of cows crossing the beach - did you get an explanation for that Sarah? I love collecting different signs in toilet - there are some really amusing ones.

by Yvonne Dumsday

Are they expected to wash their feet in the sinks? Perhaps they could use baby wipes?


by Beausoleil

Coffee is absolutely wonderful in Vietnam especially the drip coffee in a cup. Mixing sweet and savory is very Westerners and Asians have very different ideas about this. I was horrified early on in Hong Kong when I bought sausage in a roll and discover it was sweet. This is popular here and to me revolting. It's also common to add cubes of jelly to potato salad. Again to me that is strange. Your stay on that island in Laos looked really relaxing.

by irenevt

Oops is very typically Asian I meant to write.

by irenevt

I saw a sign prohibiting washing dishes in the sink once at a fort that was near a campground. And I have to say that I have washed some things in the ladies room sink that were not really intended to be washed in the sink, because it was at the beach and the showers were under construction (wth workmen in them) so I had to change in the ladies room. I think they thought most people there would be in an RV, but I wasn't.

by greatgrandmaR

Thank you all for your comments :)

Yvonne, it isn't that unusual to see cows drink in a river! The only difference here was that as the island is so low and sandy they have to walk across the beach to get to it. They go down to the river every morning and evening :)

Presumably Sally some people are tempted to wash their feet after a long flight and Vientiane Airport is too small to offer showers, but I was surprised by the sign. Rosalie, I would rather see someone washing clothes than their feet I think ;)

Irene, I liked the strong black Vietnamese coffee and quite liked the ones with condensed milk too, although I don't normally sweeten my coffee (Chris doesn't either but loved those coffees!) But this particular cappuccino was technically in Laos - airside at Vientiane Airport!

And as for mixing sweet and savoury Irene, I guess they do that a lot in the US too - jelly and peanut butter sandwiches, maple syrup on bacon ... And do you remember the cheese and pineapple on sticks of our youth? It wasn't a party without them

by ToonSarah

Yeah the breakfast came back! Loved to see cows roaming on the beach!

by katieshevlin62

I knew you'd be pleased about the breakfast Katie ;) But not sure why this comment has come through via your external email (I had to moderate it)? Are you having problems logging in?

by ToonSarah

No Sarah, I didn't realise I was logged out when I made the comment. Logged in now!

by katieshevlin62

No worries Katie - I just thought it might have been related to the problems you were having with your own blog yesterday.

by ToonSarah

I think washing dishes in the sink would be more of a problem than washing feet, because of the food particles which a regular sink isn't equipped to handle. Although when my mother was remodeling the kitchen there was no water in there and we had to wash the dishes in the bathtub. Hard on the back.

After all we wash whole babies in a sink and back in the day before we had a shower, we washed our hair in the sink. The problem with feet (which was the problem I had with changing clothes after swimming-I do rinse my suit in the sink but that wasn't the problem) is that feet might have more sand or earth on the - as my feet did from the beach. Not dirt per se, but particulate matter.

by greatgrandmaR

I have seen those signs in the bathrooms but they were near beaches which make sense as Rosalie pointed out (particulate matter).
But at the airport it is kind of odd. :)

Well they do have sweet and sour chicken in Asia so why not sugarywieners too :D

by hennaonthetrek

Hi Henna - I think maybe people get off long overnight flights and perhaps change into sandals at the airport and want to refresh their feet? I can't think of any other reason!

by ToonSarah

Even though airport time can often be boring, sometimes I actually enjoy it -- but usually small airports that are unusual or have character (I can think of a few I've been in). Your coffee in Vientiane looks delicious. Especially liked your photo of the cows' daily walk to the river for water, and the one of the Pakse thatched huts on the river but all were excellent. The next adventure begins!

by starship

Thanks Sylvia :) That photo of the Pakse huts was snatched from the car and took a bit of work in Photoshop to make it look OK but I was pleased with how it turned out in the end. I usually enjoy airport time too but this was a bit too long a wait!

by ToonSarah

So sad you couldn't visit the city, but what the heck is going on with the sign at the toilets, it is something they like to do because of the heat!?!

by Ils1976

Maybe it's the heat Ils, but I can't recall seeing similar signs in other hot countries!

by ToonSarah

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