The Urban Wanderer

Crossing Borders ~ Bridging Cultures ~ Traveling Responsibly

Goodbye Vietnam, Hello Lao

Our last days in Vietnam were definitely grey. The skies were completely overcast and you couldn’t see across the river as it was completely covered in fog. It sure made us want to leave Vietnam and experience some sun again. The other day we woke up early so that we could see the dead body of Ho Chi Minh. We got to the mausoleum and had to go through some rigorous searches in order to get through. They took away our cameras and water, and kept asking if we had knives. I’m not quite sure what we could do with a knife as the dude is already dead!  Then we had to walk single file, NO talking, and NO hands in pockets around a massive square building. It was like we were in boot camp. Finally we get to the steps of the mausoleum and the guards are decked out in fancy white garb, but with poor little rain boots. Something was amiss. They kept telling us ‘shhhhhhhh’ and because they had guns the size of King Kong we complied. I actually smuggled in my camera thinking I would snap a pic of Dead Man Minh, but clearly you don’t mess with these guys! When we got to the body we were not allowed to stop. Keep walking…keep up the pace. This little man with his spindly fingers lay there looking as if he was asleep. His body is literally about 35 years old dead and his hair is perfectly coiffed. Apparently every year they send him to Russia to get groomed and embalmed yet again. As well, this dudes dying wish was to be cremated. hmmmmmmmm. Half the country loves him and half hate him. Obviously the haters won out.428162_10151370587620434_1797304436_n
After dinner and dark my roomie Helen and I decided to walk back to the hotel from the main shops. In retrospect this was probably a mistake. We thought we knew the way, but obviously every street looks exactly the same and with no signs in English we just couldn’t read where we were going.  As we walked on a dark road this man on a motorbike pulled up to us and grabbed me. With his arm around me he wanted to know if we would like a ride on his bike. UMMMMMM NO! Then he proceeded to ask if we would like some ‘good drug’. UMMMMMM NO. He told me that he likes me and wants us to come with him. OHHHH SHITTTTTTTT. He was very persistent and was not taking no for an answer. Helen was ready to give up her purse, but I kept talking to him with hopes to diffuse the situation. Finally I told  him to have a good night and he eventually left.  We certainly thanked our lucky stars that we got out of this situation unscathed.
Vietnam’s roads are CRAZY. This country left us lessons how you cross streets.  Literally hundreds of bikes, motorbikes and cars fly by and the only way to make it across is to step on the road and go. At the beginning there were plenty of yelps and screams, but by the end of our time here we really learned to take a breath and just go. The secret to not getting killed  is to not stop or run… just walk at a steady pace and they will go around you. It is quite an art and I have successfully mastered it.421085_10151370574030434_1482648981_n
All Nammed out we got on a plane and within 1 hour was in the capital of Laos. Sun shining and people smiling again, this feels just perfect. Vientiane is a beautiful little city that is dotted with temples at almost every corner. People are friendly and last night I was happy to walk alone and feel completely safe. The country itself is poor, but the people are much better off than those in Cambodia. Everyone has enough to eat and a home. It is a slow paced country but so far I am utterly impressed.

Today we take a 6 hour journey and I look forward to what lays ahead.

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