Vientiane, 6:22 AM, Saturday the 7th of February.
Because I crashed from jet lag around 9:00 last night, and I haven't had a chance to look at my photos. And because I have just woken up on day 2, pre coffee.
Wait a minute... I have coffee in my bag. Won't be a moment. ("Starbucks Via: They ain't good, but they's handy").
OK, I'm back.
Vientiane should be the shooting location for a dystopian sci fi movie. The combination of crumbling French-era buildings, giant ugly modern Chinese-funded buildings, and Lao people zooming around everywhere in cars and on scooters and motorcycles and bicycles, plus temples and pizza joints... William Gibson wrote this town.
Also, of course the foreigners. Lots of them. Driving to the hotel down one of the main roads, it felt like we were in Waikiki, there were so many tourists.
And... the residents. One of my traveling companions and I went for a walk before dinner. We walked past several foreigners singly or in pairs, all of whom a) were clearly trying to "go native", and b) were playing the "If I don't make eye contact that means I can continue to pretend I'm the only white person in Vientiane" game. Which they certainly played in China when we lived there, and some people still do today. Seriously folks... You make me want to start a "there are a whole bunch of foreigners in Vientiane and ain't none of you special for it" billboard campaign.
Aside from them, though, we had a terrific walk through the alleyways in the neighborhood, said sabaidee to a whole bunch of friendly people, and I woke up one very annoyed cat.
Then our trip group all had dinner together, and introduced ourselves. It's good set of people; everyone seems interesting and nice. (I don't know how the Within The Frame folks manage it, but that's two for two in my experience.) The count, if memory serves, is: six americans (mostly west coast), two Canadians, two South Africans (with hilarious stories about Capetown as Portlandia), an Australian, and a German.
Today: We explore Vientiane. Photos tonight!