Last year I spent Christmas in Qingdao in northern China, where the highlight of the day was a decadent two and a half hour foot and body massage followed by a walk around town in near-freezing conditions. This year I’ll be spending it on a bus heading to southern Laos, and the temperature will top 30 degrees before 11am. The memory of Christmas past is still a little too raw to be in Australia or New Zealand right now.
My second stay in Vientiane has been another relax-fest, though for the first full day I was ill so I simply spent it lounging around my hotel room with its view over the Mekong River. Since then it’s been good food, some random meetings with other travellers, a luxurious two hour massage, walking, tv time and reading. Yesterday I faced a choice: get a bus outta town or stay one more day. I was conflicted because I felt like I was idling needlessly, but then I remembered that is in fact the point of this journey! To have the freedom to sit still if that’s what I wanted. Decision made, it was a fine day 🙂
Bloody hot too, a perfect pool day, so I hired a bike and rode out to the Australian Embassy Recreation Club. It apparently has the best pool in the city and until a couple of years ago it was open to all upon payment of a day fee. But I discovered on arrival that it’s now exclusively for members – not even expats from other countries can join. I later found a blog post from two years ago that said it used to be a popular meeting place for expats, especially wives of embassy-types with young children. But in its wisdom the Australian Government has closed it off to outsiders, so I was forced to find another option. Fortunately the Settha Palace Hotel has a fine pool which you can use for a fee without staying there, and though noone was around it was a nice place to kill a couple of hours and work on the tan.
Today I’m ready to move, though I still don’t exactly where I’m going. The short-term goal is Kong Lo Cave, a river that runs for seven kilometres underneath a mountain. It’s apparently spectacular and one of the best natural wonders of Laos. But there are several other places on the way that sound interesting, so I don’t know exactly when I’ll get there… I’m simply going to go to the southern bus station shortly and see what’s leaving when I get there. I may be off-the-grid for a few days, but will definitely be online again within a week when I get to Tha Kaek.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!