We’ve been in Vientiane for 4 nights- mainly to see if the flight prices drop low enough for us to get to Cambodia (they haven’t), so tomorrow we’re moving on to 4 Thousand Islands in the South of Laos- meaning we’ll be taking a 16 hour sleeper bus-YEY!
I have been the most ill I’ve been in years whilst we’ve been in Vientiane (I practically have bed sores I’ve been laying down so often) so my to do list which was jam packed of super fun, cool and exciting things to do here has barely been touched. We’re also stuck in the middle of a major heat wave, today it was 40 degrees + and I literally felt like I was going to melt into a Katie-sized puddle on the floor. So between trying (and failing) to escape the heat and suffering with a flare up of Crohn’s, I virtually did nothing in this capital city. I won’t lie though, the bits I did see weren’t all that fantastic. The capital just wasn’t capital-ly enough for me, but I guess that’s Laos for you- it’s a really sleep country, I feel like we’ve done absolutely nothing since we got here.
I’d recommend skipping Vientiane out of your itinerary completely as there’s not a great deal to do here and the scenery here isn’t even closely comparable to the breathtaking towns in the North. The food isn’t that great and of course as it’s the capital; prices rise slightly.
Having said that, if you are coming to Vientiane then you simply must visit the COPE centre. The COPE visitor centre is an educational, interactive gallery that completely opened my eyes. I had NO IDEA that Laos is the most bombed country in the entire world, nor was I aware that during the Vietnamese war, America dropped 2 million tonnes of ordinance on Laos- that’s a planeload every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day for 9 years. The centre focuses on the victims of ‘bombies’ which are small, orange sized explosives-hundreds of these were dropped at a time inside a cluster bomb and one alone can blow up 3 football fields simultaneously. The main issue is that a large percentage of these ‘bombies’ didn’t explode, they were buried by rubble and soil over the years meaning that they still maim and kill civillians today. COPE provides victims of ‘Bombies’ free medical care; mainly prosthesis and they travel to remote villages to care for patients who usually wouldn’t be able to get to a doctor. This place truly is incredible; it’s raw, inspirational and it represents the stark contrast of the cruelness of war and the kindness the human race can achieve. Make sure you give them a donation of as much as you can afford, they really so some amazing work there.