Vientiane, Laos      Last Updated: 07-Nov-01 

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The flight from Luang Prabang to Vientiane was pretty calm. Dodging clouds most of the way (is the pilot only VFR?), we only hit one short stretch of light turbulence, which caused one of the tourist groups to produce a series of "roller-coaster" sounds. We started out in a very mountainous area (where opium poppies are still grown by some hill tribes). The plane roughly followed the Mekong Valley and what was probably Hwy 13; the pilot seemed to have a current map. After a while we reached a very large, dammed body of water that seemed to provide well for the large open valley's irrigation. Numerous houses on stilts marched to the edges of the many lakes.

Our ATR-72  holding about 80 passengers (mostly Lao) 
Mountains  Are these poppy fields?  Dam 
Industry  Fields  Houses on stilts 

Also of note is the Laos Airways airsick bag - it is a simple paper envelope with a plastic bag stuck inside.

After seeing several more industrial areas we finally reached Vientiane, which really does not have much to show for itself. Arriving in the late afternoon, most of the temples and the museum were already closed. So we watched parts of Maverick (the movie), caught up on our CNN quota (not having had access to it for 5 days), went for a swim in the hotel pool, had some more French food (since the Indian place was no longer there), and left the next morning, after a fairly decent hotel breakfast (where Roswitha finally got some carrots!). Some high-hoo-hah delegation from Cambodia was staying at the hotel as well, and got the red carpet treatment. Literally - it was rolled down the stairs to their limo, and up to the elevator. When we came out in the evening for our stroll, the carpet had been wrapped in burlap to keep it clean, but it was still unfurled (except for the roll down the stairs to the limo, which was furled).

Our room We stayed at the Lao Plaza Hotel  The Pool 
View from the Hotel roof  View from the Hotel roof  View from the Hotel roof 

Luckily, CNN weather showed one beautiful large High over most of Indochina (after giving detailed reports about Hurricane Michelle and Afghanistan weather), so at least the flights should be smooth from that stand-point. The flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia, was listed as being 2.5 hours in duration (with only ~ 500 km). So we asked the Diethelm representative why that might be. He inquired with Lao Air that there will be one stop in Pakse, Laos, on the way. When we boarded the plane it seemed we were headed straight south (and not to Pakse) and the announcement seemed to say we are only going to fly for 50 minutes directly to Siem Reap. (Well, we will go wherever we will go!) We flew over much more densely developed and populated countryside in Thailand. Eventually the agricultural density seemed to thin out again.

Vientaine Meals:

5 Nov.

6 Nov.

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